Be Sure to Say "Thank You."

People turn to God in their hour of need. But what do they do when they get answered?

Classically, generally, people turn to God in their hour of need. Right? I mean, it may not be ABSOLUTELY true that "there are no atheists in foxholes," but you can say NEED (as a person perceives it at the time, regardless of its validity) brings out the religious in people.

Of course GREEDY and THOUGHTLESS "NEED" tends to bring out the superstitious more than the highly spiritual, because people frequently get themselves into things and then expect God to bail them out. God's evolution toward that glorious age of light and life appears to require a fair amount of culling from the gene pool those who fail to appreciate God's will, as expressed in nature. Gravity, for example. Around our house we have the saying, the best time to ask God for advice is before you jump off the cliff. Asking God to repeal gravity, undo the carefully-crafted universe of the space-time continuum, simply because you forgot to wear a parachute, isn't exactly fair. There's an afterlife for sorting those things out.

And besides, quite often the real "need" is not at all what the person is asking about, but rather the true need is a profound metamorphosis of the world view of the person praying. Serious answers to utterly selfish prayers aren't really possible -- when there's not even a crumb that could have vague translation to the values level! Of those these them yea verily was it most truly bespoken, "Sometimes the answer is no."

The best of mortals, meanwhile, can sometimes through no fault of lust or sin, and despite the most sincere efforts, find themselves in powerful need. We have been assured by God's many good voices that the faithful can turn to God in the hour of real need. There's some rules. Exhaust every human resource, pray with wisdom and humility and faith and all that good stuff. You live in a universe of Others, all requiring your acknowledgement of their spiritual equality, and all clamoring for God's gifts and all looking for that divine Love the same as you. Understand there's an encyclopedia of things to be said about how the answer might not be what you expect, or could be long delayed, or might not come even in this life, and blah dee dee blah, which you have to keep in mind while still praying whole-heartedly and without despair and oh yeah remember to keep that fundamentally joyous faith thing going.


So, let's say you do all that. And maybe your request for reasons of the universal good actually qualifies for the fast-track reply. We're talking that whizbang miracle-from-outside thing here, not one of those personal internal attitudinal metamorphowhozises.

Funny thing about getting our prayers answered in this life. Seems like God rarely puts on his George Burns skin, says, "Hi, I'm God!," hands you a big bag of money (with a big green "$" on the side) and solves all your problems with a bewitching nose twitching. Sure God can change water to wine (good wine, too, and in party quantities) anytime it seems appropriate. As a general rule, though, the showy miracles tend not to uplift the spirit of the individual and the universe, so even when we get answers, they seem to come from "within the system."

Over three decades as students of health & nutrition, Mary Jo and I've often seen simple natural remedies perform remarkable healing. Sometimes we (I say we but Mary Jo is the far better student) have been called upon as counselors (non-professionally) to our fellow mortals. Quite simply, quite often, folks get better. It's personally satisfying to have helped steer them to healing. A simple vitamin deficiency correction can seem like a miracle, especially to the one who had been ailing. So, now and then, someone will try what we're pretty sure is the right solution, but will report back to us that the "medicine" (whatever treatment) "didn't do anything… the condition just went away on its own." Right. We see that "going away on its own" a lot. If fact, since what we study is what you might call natural remedies, then natural healing, if any, is all we ever see. If a person doesn't understand this, that's okay. The fundamental purpose, healing, is achieved.

So, the parallel: When God answers you, it's not (usually these days anyway) via the bolt from the blue, charioteers from the sky, or the dramatic angelic rescue... not as often as it is a seemingly natural confluence of fortuitous events. See, here's the trick, and here's why I'm sucking up the bandwidth with these words. Sometimes the answer you get can be exactly what you asked for. But it can be so subtle you didn't even know you got it, or the answer came so quietly you didn't even realize it was the solution to your screaming dilemma.

Since we frequently are asking for something bad NOT to happen to us, it's not always clear when the threat has passed; maybe there wasn't a big "whew! we're okay now" moment; or, time just passed and the dreaded didn't develop. So, at some point, you might realize, your wishes were answered, but maybe... maybe you don't think back to those prayers. Things just worked out, or you got busy because you got the job, or it turned out not to be cancer, or Billy came home safe, or the IRS said they owed YOU money... and life goes on... and the next crisis occurs, and you get busy with that... but one way or another... you don't realize your appeal to the Almighty actually was answered, and timely, and well, and even perfectly, and you got just what you asked for and completely MISSED IT!

God is always busy right now answering your very own personal deepest, most heartfelt prayers, perfectly answering every single one of them (note rules above), whether you realize it or not. I was raised that if you get something nice, you ought to say thanks. I've never been very good at writing those thank-you notes, and that's not my mom's fault; she tried to teach me. However, an attitude of gratitude not only seems in order, but helps keep the system healthy.

Thoughts to the world from a warm spring day in Oklahoma,