A Man of Sorrows, and Acquainted with Grief

Great Mysteries of Heaven

What’s the difference between God causing something to happen

And God allowing something to happen?

This all-powerful being could stop every misdeed

And right every wrong.

No ill would ever occur if he were to free his hand,

Yet he stays it

And allows woman and man

To choose their own course.

He allows us to face the deliberate temptation of demons

And to elect to follow them,

Harming those that lie in our way,

And all this that we might be proven

And that we might learn

And grow.

But wait!, a voice cries,

He does intervene,

Prompting his children in whispers of spirit

To heal each others’ wounds,

But not always,

At least, we don’t always listen.

We can never know if God has whispered in someone’s heart,

To mend the tears in another’s soul,

Or if He chose to refrain,

And abstain.

We can only have faith

In his ne’er-ending love,

And know that he either advocated our temporal happiness,

Or that, in some mysterious way,

We needed sorrow more.

by Allen L. Warner

Everyone who believes in a loving, all-powerful God must confront the question of why he allows or perhaps causes such grief and sorrow.  This is a part of our answer as Mormons: that grief and sorrow can lead to blessings in the end.  Perhaps God himself does nothing to cause sorrow, but only takes advantage of it to teach us and help us see, to refine us and purify us.  Perhaps it is a test or a chance to grow and become more than we would otherwise be.  Perhaps we suffer because of our own choices, beliefs or desires (or attachments as Buddhists would describe them).  Some people would say there is no higher purpose for suffering.  Even if there isn’t, we may still agree with the famous words of Friedrich Nietzche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

It’s amazing how comforting words like that are…after the sorrow is past.  In the middle of it, none of those concepts seem to take away the pain.  Afterwards, we find comfort in perspective.

How My Religion is Like Being a Parent

A Sunday Post:

Being a parent is a pretty constant business.  You don’t get a vacation from being a dad or a mom.  It’s a lot of hard work, but you do it because it means something to you, because it’s important and because you thrive on the little rewards that occasionally come up: the unprompted and unexpected expression of appreciation, a warm feeling as you see your children succeed in something you helped teach them or the chance to share the joy they’ve found in their own lives with a little help from mom and dad.

My religion is kind of like that.  I know this isn’t just true of my religion and I know that it’s not only children and religion that inspire those feelings.  Dedicating yourself to anything meaningful to you probably has the same result.  My religion just happens to be one of the major ways I find those rewards.

If anyone reading this doesn’t know, I am Mormon and belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We Mormons sometimes get kind of sensitive to criticism, but one criticism we embrace wholeheartedly is that our religion takes a lot of time, effort and discipline and a certain measure of sacrifice.  We are perversely proud of that fact, it seems.

I don’t want to go through the list of things we do or are expected to do.  Most people in the church fall short in at least one of them, anyway.  Let’s just say that being Mormon can require a lot.

At times in my life, the demands of my church have seemed a bit too much to me.  Life is supposed to be enjoyed, after all.  I have wondered if it was actually worth it to be Mormon.  I have thought about hanging it up and moving on.

Then, like being a parent, something happens that makes it all seem worthwhile.  It may be an overwhelming feeling of acceptance and worth, a knowledge that I am doing something good for others, an experience of hope or healing, a sense of peace, an ability to see good in the world or an idea that I am a better person because of my faith.  Like being a parent, the costs are easy to identify, but the rewards are hard to see, much less describe.

I expect the same is true of any religion or any endeavor that people willingly sacrifice for.  As people say, if it was easy everyone would do it.  They could add that if it didn’t bring rewards no one would do it.  Truthfully, I don’t always like the work and effort it takes to be involved in my church, but I do like the rewards, so I stick with it because it means a lot to me.