I am frequently puzzled by pious sayings. I know they are meant to be comforting, but why? Things like “God opens a window when he closes a door.” “God will take care of it.” ” Have faith, God will save you” all imply that you … we … are helpless. That we can do nothing in the face of problems other than pray to a higher power for help.
Why is that? Why should helplessness be a comfort to anyone?
What makes you think God closed that door? Maybe the wind blew it shut. God may take care of you in a spiritual sense, but practically speaking, for every person I know who feels God saved them, there are many more who didn’t survive the disease, lost their home, wound up on the street, lost a child, lost a mate, didn’t succeed, failed to meet the challenge. I’m much more inclined to “God helps them who helps themselves.” Because it suggests that we have strength, that we are not simply at the mercy of forces we cannot control.
Does that mean I’m an atheist? Not at all. What I have is an unyielding belief that with free will, we also have responsibility.
God gave us gifts when we were created as images of Himself. We got intelligence, cleverness, reason, creativity. We were granted the ability to judge right from wrong, knowledge of good and evil. When a window closes, there is no reason to assume God closed it. It’s entirely likely, if you look around, pay attention and don’t collapse in a sodden heap of helpless tears, you may see a window is already there, was always there, but you weren’t looking for it. Walk over, brace yourself, and open the window. Voila!
You don’t need to ask God to do those things you can and should do for yourself.
I don’t believe clouds have silver linings, but I believe storms are no less necessary than sunshine. We need rain, wind and storms. It’s part of life, the normal ups and downs. Rain is not worse or less valuable than sunshine, only different. It keeps the aquifers alive and the crops growing. You may not like rain, but the earth loves and needs it. Creation was not made just for you and me and our personal comfort and convenience.
There are many things over which we have no control. We cannot fix all the broken things in the world or in our lives. Death is part of life and though we fear it, it’s the only certainty.
Until then, we have choices to make and responsibilities to meet. If we can’t make everything go as we want, we can do the best we can to take care of ourselves and each other, make the best of our choices. Pick good occupations, mates. When needed, find the right surgeon, hospital and treatment. Find good people to be our friends, who will support us through good times and bad. We can choose to be decent, kind, caring and treat others as we want to be treated.
We can choose paths of honor and love. We can be the good guys. We can decide to care for other people even when it costs us dearly.
We can make those choices because we were born to an understanding of right and wrong, with the ability to make the best of bad situations, to cope with pain and bear up under ill-fortune. That’s not punishment. It’s life. No one said it was going to be easy.
We don’t have to wait for a higher power to take care of us. We are grown ups. Expecting God to take care of every boo-boo is infantile. If we aren’t supposed to take care of ourselves, why did God give us the ability to do so? If He was intending to personally care for all the needs of every single person on the planet, why give us the wondrous gifts to which we are heir?
Do I pray? Yes. Do I think prayers get answered? Absolutely.
But remember this when you pray. Sometimes the answer is “No.”
We are free to ask, but free will cuts both ways. God has free will too, so there’s no guarantee we’ll get what we ask for. God never promised to fix every hurt or eliminate evil. No matter what religion you follow — or even if you follow no particular faith — nothing and no one promises to make all the bad stuff go away. So I will continue do my best to take care of me and mine, using the gifts God gave me as best I can.
Because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do.