The Hand of God

Hand of God
A friend recently encouraged me to recall the times I perceived the hand of God on my life.

Even in my Christian days, when I might have had a chance at perceiving God, that would have been a difficult challenge to meet. The reason is that anything could be God working, Satan working, or just me.

When circumstances were good, it was God’s blessing; when they were bad, it was God building character.

When all the doors were open for a certain course of action, it could be God opening them, it could be my own wishful thinking, it could be coincidence, or it could be Satan laying a way of temptation.

When a prayer was granted, maybe the outcome would have been the same if I had not prayed; when it was not granted, maybe that was only because God had something better in store for me.

What about the “inner witness of the Holy Spirit”? Let’s at least be this honest: the inner witness has been pretty unreliable in other people. One only has to observe the huge discrepancies in important doctrines and biblical interpretations that supposedly Spirit-led people have come up with to know this.

If the alleged inner witness of the Spirit hasn’t worked for them, why should I believe it will work for me? Am I that exceptional?

In fact, as I said in the post The Feeling of Knowing, our brains are eager to make us feel that we know something before we actually have sufficient justification, which is to say before we know rather than just believe:

Our rational thought process, left to its own, could dither forever. We need something that says, “You have the answer now. Time to act.” That something is the feeling of knowing.

When considering something as important yet subjective as whether God is working in your life, it seems to me that we should be extra careful. We need to devise ways to know we are not fooling ourselves.

That’s what procedures such as randomized, double-blind experiments are designed to do. What would that look like in one’s own life? Some people keep prayer journals and observe which prayers are answered. That’s a start, but it’s hardly┬árandomized or double-blind. Scientific studies of prayer have been done, but the results have not been encouraging.

So help me out, dear readers. Have you been able to perceive the hand of God on your life? How do you know?

2 responses to “The Hand of God

  1. My answer is a big No I haven’t. I knew rather early on that the whole of Christendom was based on only so much bovine effluent. Therefore no hand of god/gods/God involved.

  2. Great question… and, I’d say the answer is “it depends”…

    Let me elaborate: A short while back, I moved into a new apartment. After a couple of weeks in the new place, my two cats got out one night. I woke up, and discovered them gone (and how they got out), and frantically started looking for them. I did everything imaginable – posting flyers, facebook postings, craigslist, petfinders, went door to door – you name it, I did it. For *months*, in fact. I really wanted them back – the were “my girls”.

    And, I prayed. I asked God to help me find them, or bring them back, or just give me some kind of “inspiration” as to where to look – just throw me a bone – *anything*.

    That was nearly a year ago, and I still haven’t found my kitties.

    Was God’s answer to my prayers “no”? Or, “maybe later”? (So far, it certainly hasn’t been “yes”). OR – were my prayers just wasted words, drifting off into empty space? Mere noises I uttered to a God who wasn’t there?

    The answer to that depends on what one believes about the God they’re praying to. If one believes that God is the god of deism, then, it was foolish to pray in the first place. The god of deism doesn’t answer prayers. He may have created this universe, but, having done that, he just let’s things go “on their own”.

    If one believes in the god of pantheism – a god who is “in all things” – then again, prayer is sort of foolish: a god who is “in all things” is indiscernable from “whatever happens”, so the answer is *always* “whatever happens *is* from god”. Again, no real point in praying. “Whatever happens” is just what’s gonna happen. Even “focusing your energies” to bring about a “positive change” turns out to be “just what happens”. After all, you yourself, along with all your thoughts and actions, are equally a part of “just what happens”, so “focusing your energy or thoughts for positive change” is really quite a useless endeavor.

    If you believe in many gods, then prayer could ultimately prove a futile and frustrating effort: It’s hit-and-miss. How can you be sure that the particular god to which you are praying has any concerns about that which you are praying about? You could literally spend an eternity, praying to each of a potentially infinite number of gods, never getting your request to the right one. So, even if you finally get what you’re praying for, there’s just no telling if the answer was from a particular god, or, whether it “just happened”.

    But, if you believe in a God who is the singular, ultimate Creator of the universe, and who has ultimate control over all things which happen in that universe, and is a God who *cares* about His creation – which includes you, personally – then you have reason to believe that your prayers have indeed been heard, and that this “God who cares about the universe, and you personally” will respond in some fashion – ultimately, with a “yes” or a “no”.

    This One God Who Cares – about the universe, about every creature, and about you, personally – is God, as revealed in Jesus Christ – who, according to Christian belief, was “God incarnate” – God, who came to earth to visit in human form, because He cares deeply and personally.

    Ultimately, then, the answer to the question “Have you been able to perceive the hand of God on your life? How do you know?” depends on whether you have any real reason to believe the god you are praying to even gives a rip about you, your concerns, your life.

    For the Christian, the “proof” that God does indeed give a rip about you, your concerns, your life, and maybe even your lost cats, is that He came, in human form, to reveal Himself to the world, fully knowing that He himself, in that human form, would suffer immensely for having done so – but – you (and maybe even your cats) were worth it to HIm.

    For the Christian, then, a “no” from God is as good as a “yes”, because either answer is from The God Who Cares Deeply And Personally, And Who Is Able To Answer All Prayers.

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