Stay Frosty: Faith And Good Works Don’t Eliminate Risk And Tragedy, Not Even Close

I’ve frequently heard people say that as long as they have faith and do the right thing, ‘the Lord will take care of them’. This lackadaisical attitude, however, has a destructive potential. Faith and doing right in hard circumstances is crucial but folks overlook that those things don’t absolve you from risk (including others’ actions) and natural law. When risk’s consequences come to bear, they will blindside and strike at the core. Risk’s punch is magnified for the complacent and unsuspecting.

Christ and scripture are quite clear that we will have trials and He’ll sustain us. That’s why faith is crucial. But it’s also made very clear that trials will be lightened, not removed – often lightened just enough for you to make it through or survive; you will be “refined by fire”. There are times risk and it’s consequences will cost your life even when you seek to do God’s will. I have ancestors that can attest to that – one was laid in a frozen grave in Wyoming and another in Utah from ‘a broken heart’ related to the Wyoming death. There are plenty of bad things that happen to good people all the time.

Many of us have heard the Francis Webster story of the Martin Handcart Company’s faith. Typically, the story ends with ‘ faith grew and not a single person fell away from the church’. Unfortunately, the story has been misconstrued (to a borderline urban legend), providing a false sense of security, diminishing free agency, and a poor lesson of consequences of trials.

The journey was absolutely horrible and Levi Savage was right to warn of the likely impending doom. They chose to press forward, regardless, wanting to be faithful and go to Zion ASAP. Some probably firmly believed they would be fine because they were doing God’s will and He’d keep them safe. In reality, risk and consequences were in play and all were subject to the deadly and debilitating results of their decision.

The conclusion about everyone being spiritually strengthened by the experience is false and a better lesson lost. Some went in eyes open prepared to accept that they had accepted significant risk, others were blindsided but focused on God and adapted to their potential new fates, and others did not. An excellent historical analysis of the story is available from BYU: Francis Webster: The Unique Story of One Handcart Pioneer’s Faith and Sacrifice.

The report includes the following key observations:

[PAGE 3]By attempting to make his testimony the universal sentiment of each member of these companies, a valuable and inspiring lesson has been lost. In its place has arisen a common perception that the price he paid to gain his powerful testimony simply involved pulling a handcart and enduring the hardships of an early winter. The lesson at the heart of his statement, however, goes beyond having to endure the cold and snow that all in the company experienced…

[PAGE 8]Although the Martin Company truly exemplified the motto “Faith in Every Footstep,” its members were not unlike any other disparate group of Latter-day Saints, such as those who made a similar journey at a different time or those found in a modern ward. There was a majority of the company, including Francis and Betsy Webster, whose faith seemed to grow with every step they took. There were also those who trudged along the trail, their faith little changed by what they experienced. Finally, there were those whose faith seemed to weaken along the way…

[PAGE 9]… While it is not known that anyone in the company apostatized directly as a result of the trials they endured in the cold and snow, there were Martin Company members who subsequently left the Church…

Being cavalier about risks on horizon and disregarding them with ‘it’s all in the plan and God will save us’ has a high likelihood of a very rude awakening. It also unrealistically displaces responsibility onto the Lord. Sure He’s in control but that doesn’t mean he’s “controlling” and we can dump our responsibilities on Him. He isn’t a micro-manager; more a laissez-fair Father. He typically just lets things play out without ‘making it happen’ (I bet we drive Him absolutely nuts with our reactions though). Natural law (His law) pretty much takes care of consequences, good or bad. He is critically involved through his Holy Spirit as a support and a guide to help prompt the faithful to avoid undue trials, to help us fight through trials and comfort us in tragedies and failures. Those are still miracles and growing experiences, if we so choose.

Really, virtually all curses, plagues, blessings and miracles come about by natural means – life takes care of it. Our choices and faith will determine if we turn things into a blessing or a curse. Things He actively made happen are exceptions to the rule and few in number (it wouldn’t surprise me if many of those exceptions were natural events the faithful were guided to and we just haven’t figured out yet).

Life is unfair. Its inherent risks and our screw-ups are certainly refining fires. We’re going to get unfairly beat up, have heartaches and may well lose our lives along the way but we know there’s a life beyond and we take hope and comfort in Christ’s Grace and His mansions beyond. We absolutely need to follow Christ, help each other, consistently repent and faithfully pray for God’s strength and blessings on us. We best also plan to be aware, anticipate, steel ourselves and put up a helluva fight to stick around here and make the best of it.

Disclaimer: I’m warning everyone right now that I’m not going to tolerate any dumping on anyone’s religious affiliation. While religious, this post isn’t a forum to troll people on their religion.

The Good And Blessed USA

Today’s a day of reflection. It’s amazing that 15 years have passed since Islamic terrorists killed so many in their twisted hate.

I just want to say I wish people here would think about how wonderful we have it here in the US. I’ve lived in several nations where true poverty exists and real walls to fulfilling your potential exist. People here seem oblivious to this and seem intent on seeking absurd reasons to be miserable and make a hobby at finding fault where none exists. Many spend more time trying to scapegoat their own shortcomings rather than identifying a path forward and pushing passed (or blowing up) any real obstacles ahead (usually of their own making and control).

Sure the US has screwed some stuff up along the way (surprise – men are fallible). Some of that still has effects today but this nation was established on divinely inspired principles the provide for a freedom of opportunity. If those principles are adhered to, the path is open to success for all should they choose it, and work for it.

We seem to be losing the vision and nefarious sources will attack it. I pray that we return to the foundations of liberty and opportunity, that we don’t get sucked into Pyrrhic solutions to false disparity. Take the time to look on history, the real misery of nations (past and present) and sacrifices made for us. The US is a righteous nation and one to be proud of. Let’s not blow it.

Will We Accept God’s Help?

For years now, this blog has generally kept everything pretty secular to avoid distracting debates over ‘who’s religion is better’. I’ve seen those pointless debates drive commenters and readers with shared values and common morals away from blogs. All from doctrinal tiffs that had nothing to do with the blog/article focus in the first place.

This post will be necessarily religious in nature and I’m warning everyone right now that I’m not going to tolerate any dumping  on anyone’s “quirky beliefs” (everyone has ’em – deal with it). While religious, this post isn’t a forum for a comparative religion debate. Disclaimer over.

I’ve long written about an erosion of fundamental values in this nation. I’ve primarily discussed Constitutional values. Today, I’m referring to the underpinnings of the Constitution itself: the morality of this nation. As John Adams stated:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

This quote should shake us. Certainly, we all fall short of God’s perfection. However, the nation is well beyond that. We are now, and have long been, justifying clearly immoral acts that violate basic God-given tenets. Selfishness, envy of our neighbor, taking from neighbors (eg special interest taxes), gay marriage (and forced labor thereto), abortion heralded, out of wedlock births on the rise and sex after marriage is now considered odd…examples abound. Just look at the morality on TV as a reflection of society’s course (why do moral people consume and feed their children such destructive drivel they disagree with?).

God is a loving but just god. He is prepared to bless us as he clearly has in the past but we must accept such blessings and providence by our intents and deeds. To be blunt, as a nation we are not.

I pray that we (self included) will search to improve and repent of our wrong doings. We need to acknowledge these and return to our God-given moral principles and teach them to our children. As one calling in the wilderness: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Nothing escapes God’s law. God need not lift a finger – we will push His loving hand away and choose to be left to our own self-inflicted consequences. This will not end well. God help us.

an-appeal-to-heaven-flag
Washington Cruisers Flag History

A Must Read Essay On The Destructive Force Of Truth Avoidance

This is an absolute must-read essay (via Instapundit). It is a nice tie-in to my semi-recent post “The Offended Society: Killing Freedom To Think And Our Future“. Be sure to note that the problem is found in all facets of society including one of the last bastions of foundational values: religion.

Of Pigpens And Paradise

Excerpt (please read the whole essay):

This is why I get so angry at my fellow conservatives who blame bad schools and incompetent teachers for the poor educational results among the impoverished. Children are not empty receptacles into which we can insert knowledge. If they live in homes filled with noise, chaos, violence, and contempt, it doesn’t matter what race they are, they are going to be very lucky to make it….

…Here’s the thing: it’s not just the poor and the working class anymore. I’m told by teachers and others that it’s the middle class now too. The attitude that if anything is wrong, it’s Somebody Else’s Fault, is becoming general. Nobody wants to hear criticism of any sort. Nobody wants to recognize authority, or to assert authority in a meaningful way.

This is what it means to live in therapeutic culture, in which maintaining a sense of well being is the absolute telos of our common and individual life. This is what it means when the values of the marketplace (e.g., “The customers is always right”) have infected our normative institutions, and inform the way families and individuals see themselves. This is what it means when our churches (insofar as people still attend them) treat their purpose as offering people comfort and uplift, not solid moral norms and preaching repentance when we fall short. This is what it means when we the people expect our institutions — our schools, our churches, and so forth — to cater to our own felt emotional needs.

The middle class can forestall the reckoning because we have money and resources to avoid the consequences; the poor and the working classes do not. But a reckoning is coming…

Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David,)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.