“Is there any difference in your mind between a higher power who ‘could’ restore you to sanity and who ‘would’ restore you to sanity? In other words, what do you think is necessary on your part for God to actually carry out the work of restoring you to sanity?”
Ok, this is one of those workbook style questions that make me like workbooks over just checkboxes.
Believed a higher power can restore sanity (aka saneness, my prefered word change) to the insanity and issues in my life is an easy check.. I mean, belief in an all powerful God easily transfers down to power to do smaller things, next step… leave that one to be a stumbling block to the atheists.
But breaking it down a bit…. becomes not nearly as easy to blow past things without really digging into them.
Do I believe there is a difference between “would” and “could” involving God in general? Yes.
He can do all things…. he won’t do all of them… a difference between “can” and “will” then turns into a difference between “could” and “would”.
This usually comes into mind involving healings and such in general. Do I believe he can raise the dead? Yes. Do I believe he has raised the dead? Yes. Do I believe he is going to raise the dead person in question in a circumstance… or even in the vast vast majority of recent claims of dead-raising in his name? Honestly… No.
Why? A question of will and plans. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he chooses not to do so. When the healing is a critical ingredient in someone’s faith or the path of the plan for their life’s purpose, weaknesses of the human body are trivial things to overcome. When it’s not, there is usually a much greater purpose in their overcoming the obstacle than there would have been in the dramatic nature of a healing.
Which, to be technical, it often a healing of a slower, gradual sort… he heals much more often through the hands of a doctor than through the laying on of praying hands.
So, getting back to the specific point of the question, I believe he “could” very easily bring about healing over wounds, scars, emotional and practical issues in my life. But what is my answer if I change the word to “would”?
And I’m not sure I like my answer much.
I’d like to give the “right” Christian answer of yes, no reluctancy, move on.
I mean, if we’re going to a question of God’s plan to determine his will, obviously a healed follower who has their issues as things they have overcome in the past is going to be a lot more helpful in achieving that plan than once that’s getting trampled by things on any regular basis.
But when it really comes down to a yes or no, I find myself leaning much more heavily towards the “eventually overcome through lots of pain, effort, and hard work” belief. Yes, I believe he will. Right now? Umm…. maybe not so much.
Which starts getting into the second part of the question. What do I believe God wants on my part?
My answer sort of splits in half here.
Part of me wants to go with the answer of simply believing and asking. As with grace. He knows my total lack of capability on really most everything. He knows I can’t do this in my own power… that’s the point. Even this question is phrased from the assumption that God will be the one carrying out the work.
And yet… really? I still feel like it requires a lot more work than that on my part. That my pain, effort, attempts at doing the best I can…. will somehow earn the mercy of filling in the giant gaps of the areas that my efforts haven’t been able to come close to fixing.
And this is where things have started to get stuck.
When you make it a bit more general, honestly, it’s a question that has sort of been needing answered for a while. From everything including this, to general everyday issues, to relationships, to job search stuff. What do I believe he expects on my part, to have him do what only he is capable of doing?
Given that I believe he is a loving God, who freely forgives upon just my asking, and is capable of all things…. why do I believe that I must exhaust all of my possible efforts and make every possible fruitless attempt before he will help?
Intellectually, and when I really search my heart, I know better. While he does want my growth through challenges, banging my head against the wall on pointless wasted efforts is hardly growth producing beyond what it teaches me that I’m not capable of doing by myself.
So then is growth my answer? That he expects me to learn from the given situation and apply the lessons before he’s willing to help resolve it?
I think the answer of growth is probably the answer I’m feeling right now.
Effort to exhaustion is the answer I’m practicing right now.
But while I’m sure the latter isn’t the correct answer now that I’ve really thought about it enough to confront it…. I’m not entirely positive the first answer is all that correct either.
I’ve played with various tangents of it… where exactly is the point of “enough” growth? is it the fullest amount of possible learning from a situation, or just enough to fulfill future needs until i’ve forgotten enough to need the next reminder lesson, or ideally enough to get through life but unfortunately we still have that whole failing human things going, or does it vary according to each round… and then how do i know when that point has been reached and the rest is just banging my head on the wall and my efforts should change from wall banging to pleading? or should they even change from wall banging to pleading?
Which opened up a whole new can of worms. Should pleading have been included in the consideration for the earlier answer of what I feel is required?
Yup. Actually, I think I’d sort of overlooked that as a bit of a given.
Yes, I know… there are verses with Jesus teaching specifically saying that it’s not about the number of repetitions… but then, it seems to be a given of prayer that discussion on my part leads pretty naturally into it. and there are psalms and probably proverbs and other spots leaning towards the squeaky wheel that make me feel validated in doing it anyway.
But even excluding the pleading… the “efforts” pile usually is going to involve expanded prayer time and in bigger issues fasting in the more useful feeling of the efforts. Which may really need to be seperated into their own category for consideration.
But then, maybe not… if again, that’s falling into “human efforts made to attempt to solve a non-human-solveable problem”.
But then, again, the point of both is more developing the relationship with God further. Which, very much falls into the growth category.
(Plus… a bit of cheating…. I know one of the further steps involves more extended prayer seeking only to know his will and the strength to carry it out…. which falls into the prayer and fasting, but not into the pleading… thus making a nice clue that I’m at least somewhat on the expected track of thought here…)
So. Boiling all that down.
I believe that he can and will restore saneness, though it’s not likily to happen until there has been growth, in spiritual areas in particular.
Still not sure that’s my final answer. And it probably won’t be in the long term. But it’s my working answer for the moment.