The other day I woke up at 2:45 and couldn’t sleep. So, I got up and left my room so I wouldn’t disturb my wife.
I turned my phone on and checked my LinkedIn app and came across a beautiful post shared by my wonderful friend Lorena Acosta. Her post carried such a powerful message and marvelous accompanying video that I was stirred my heart to write this article rather than going back to bed.
In her post, Lorena stated the following:
“We want to assert our ‘rights’ to decide whether or not to let someone else live and now we realize that we cannot even decide for our [own] LIFE [on] a planet that decided that GOD does not exist without having sought it.”
It is that last phrase, “a planet that decided GOD does not exist without having sought it,” that stirred me and prompted me to write this article.
Many in this world have embraced the idea that God is either dead or that He doesn’t care about what is going on in our lives. They’ve projected the image of a deadbeat dad onto God and in doing so attempted to justify their reasoning for ignoring Him or turning away altogether. “He doesn’t care about me, so why should I care about Him?”
I cannot speak for others, only for myself.
I do not know the dead God so many in the world have accepted. I do not know the deadbeat God that far too many have projected and decidedly turned away from.
In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the God I know “is not dead nor doth He sleep.” The God I know is fully awake and fully aware of us. He is our loving Father and He wants us to be happy and prosper. He does everything He does with that objective in mind.
Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering?
If that is the case, many may question, “Where is God in the current coronavirus crisis? How could He allow this to happen? How could He allow so much suffering to occur?”
Because God loves us, He has given us the amazing ability to choose. He had to do so in order for us to grow and be happy. He had to do so that we might know the bitter in order to truly prize the sweet. Just as our muscles have to have the opposition of exercise in order to grow stronger, so too we must have the ability to choose, which allows us to face the opposition that stretches our souls so that we can grow stronger spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
With that ability to choose, we have the freedom to choose to do whatever we want. However, a key thing to remember is that while we have the ability to choose what we do, we do not have the ability to choose the consequences of our choices.
How then do we know what to choose so that we might have the best possible outcomes?
To help us, God has given us our conscience, or the light of Christ that is within each of us, that helps know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.
Most importantly, just as loving parents on earth set specific rules and boundaries for the safety and well-being of their children, God has given us boundaries in which to live (i.e., commandments) and promised that He will bless and prosper us as long as we stay within those boundaries.
We read in the scriptures that Christ taught only those things that He had heard from the Father. Christ taught, “If ye love me keep my commandments.”
The apostle Paul taught, as we read in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
Unfortunately, we live in a time when more and more people are embracing the idea that God’s commandments are too restrictive, tie us down, and keep us from experiencing the true “freedom” that we desire and deserve. Many have even embraced the brazen lie that God’s commandments are cruel because they are set and unchanging and don’t make allowances for letting us to do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it.
Commandments Are Like Kite Strings…
In fact, the complete opposite is true. While it is true that God’s commandments tie us down, it is not in a restrictive manner, but rather in a way that keeps us on solid ground. Just as a kite string keeps a kite steady and allows the kite to soar up into the sky and stay flying, so too God’s commandments keep us tied to solid, unshifting ground and, when we keep them, enable us to soar in ways we never thought possible because we are partnering with God.
However, what happens if the kite string gets severed? We know what happens. It may fly higher for a time, giving the illusion of greater freedom, but then it comes crashing down hard, with the possibility that it might be damaged beyond repair.
The same is true with God’s commandments. When we sever those ties and go with the flow of doing whatever we think or feel is right at the moment, we may experience the illusion of freedom for a time, but then we come crashing down hard and can be severely damaged — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Have we reached that state as a world? I believe we have. Many crises we experience very well be a result of God allowing us to reap the consequences of our choices with the hope that as we come crashing down, we will again turn to Him and seek the help that He so desperately wants to give us.
Just as a kite that has crashed needs our intervention to repair it if it is ever to fly again, so we need God’s intervention to repair us if we are to fly again and soar as He desires us to soar.
Now, back to the question, “Where is God in this coronavirus crisis?”
He is there, He is aware, and He wants to help us. He’s always been there and has never moved.
Rather, it is we who have moved ourselves away from Him.
It is up to us to turn back to God and seek His help. He is waiting patiently for us to do so, for He will force no man to turn to Him.
A vital thing to remember, though, is this — just as we can’t expect to lose weight overnight when we’ve mistreated our bodies for years, neither can we expect to repair a damaged relationship with God overnight. If we’ve been turned away from God for a long time when things have seemingly been good and we felt like we didn’t “need Him,” can we expect to turn to Him now, in a time of crisis, and have our relationship with Him instantly repaired? No, it will take time. He will hear us and bless us as we exercise great deal of humility, along with sincere repentance for those things which we have done which damaged the relationship in the first place — but it will take time. He will need to know that our desires and our actions are truly sincere, not just “pie crust” promises made in times of desperation.
Because of Christ and His sacrifice for us, we can repent. We can rest assured that as we do so with all sincerity, with the intent to bring our lives back into harmony with Christ’s and God’s commandments, God’s tender mercies will be extended towards us. He will comfort us, sustain us, lift us and enable us, through His grace, to lift and bless others.
In partnership with Him, we can rest assured that we will make it through any crisis and come out better and stronger than we were before for having passed through it.
For myself, I know these things to be true.
Randall McNeely is a husband, father of five, and author. He is also a singer/songwriter and has written several patriotic songs, children’s songs, and multiple religious hymns. The best known is 'Oh Jesus, Savior of Mankind', which won a Special Recognition award in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 2008 Music Submission contest. He and two of his daughters have also recorded and released the children’s song Everybody Speaks Smile! Randy has a firm testimony of Jesus Christ. He is the light and the life of the world. It is said and written of Him that "He went about doing good." In doing so, He weaved light into the hearts and souls of all with whom He came in contact, both in word and deed. Randy's desire is to have the same said of him. He wants to have the words and lyrics he writes uplift, inspire, and bless others. To read more articles by Randy visit his Pure Testimony website at www.puretestimony.org.