Why do most people feel compelled to give God credit for everything?
It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, good or bad. If it’s good, then God must have played a part in it.
Football players score and then point to the sky. After most any disaster you will hear people say something like, “Thank God my cat survived the fire,” or “Thank God the tornado didn’t hit the grade school.”
At the same time, God gets the rap for a lot of unfortunate events. If this past Christmas I had prayed for a new BMW convertible, and God (or Santa) hadn’t come through — which he didn’t — I could have been upset with God or just said to myself, “God was teaching me a lesson here.”
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In the same vein, if your mother is injured in an auto accident and despite your prayers to God she later dies, you can blame God or choose to find a lesson in that, too.
Of course, there are those who would use just such an incident to blame God for the outcome and thus justify giving up their faith in God.
In the early 1980s, my youngest son, Matthew, age 7, was hit by a car and suffered a severe head injury. After surgery he was in the hospital for more than seven weeks, most of that time in a coma.
Physical therapy was started almost immediately to ensure that his muscles and tendons didn’t atrophy. Music was on the radio constantly, and we talked to him, knowing that any stimulus he might receive could be beneficial.
One of my sisters was a relatively new “born again,” and in exercising her faith she spent a great deal of time praying over Matt. Her faith never flagged, even though the miracle she had pictured was not to be.
Matt’s recovery followed a relatively common path: slowly coming out of the coma and eventually coming home, learning to walk, talk and live again. Over the years, despite his physical and mental handicaps, he became an inspiration to me and others.
In his mid-30s, seizures began occurring and eventually claimed his life. Through it all I never blamed or claimed God as the cause of the events that were his accident, partial recovery and eventual death.
For Matt, the world was pretty black or white. He was befriended by some young men who made him a part of their life and shared their fundamentalist Christian beliefs with him. He was absolutely convinced that he was “saved” and that he would go to a better place.
His older brother tells of a time when he explained to Matt that he didn’t share his faith and asked Matt what he thought might be in store for him after death. Matt replied in his usual frank manner that he couldn’t be concerned about that, because he knew only where he was going.
Whether a God is involved or not, isn’t that really what life is all about? Knowing where you are going?
Sometimes with certainty and most other times only on faith.
Jim Skinner can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.