As is so often the case, I was enjoying Stevelikes2curse’s latest Riffing On Mail Call video, and it got me to thinking. One of the callers used the phrase, “The lord helps those who help themselves”, and then it turned up again in another comment. Steve made a great crack about how that was the moral of the Good Samaritan story, and then reminded the viewers that this phrase does not actually appear in the Bible. But I wanted to run with it in my own way.
As a kid, my dad said that a lot. It would come up in all kinds of ways, but was almost always what he said when dinner was on the table and it was time for all of us to start filling our plates. As a wee Christian boy, that always made me giggle. Now that I think about it, I have no idea why.
So God helps those who help themselves, eh? Well, that’s interesting. Obviously, the intention is to imply the importance of initiative, and that waiting around for God to make changes in your life isn’t going to make things better. If you want to fix things, you have to let the rubber hit the road, so to speak.
I totally agree with the sentiment, so long as you remove “God” from the equation. Help yourself. Nobody is going to do anything for you. A great example comes from the many stories of people who have been sick and have prayed for healing. Prayer may make you feel better, but evidence-based medical intervention tends to be a much more proactive and effective approach.
My friend and regular Meddling Kids reader The Bastard once told me about a family he knew. I may get this wrong, as it isn’t my story, but it illustrates the point, and The Bastard can chime in in the comments section if I go off the rails on this one. The dad lost his job, but he knew that God would provide. A family in their church offered to take them in while they went through their difficult times, so they lived in this family’s basement and prayed for a solution. But the dad didn’t actually do anything. For five years, the family bled off the generosity of their hosts. I assume that eventually, things had to change, but most of us, when confronted with a similar situation, would do things like looking for work in addition to the prayers and admonitions to a higher power.
Faith requires you to be a self-starter. Well, more accurately, life requires you to be a self-starter. But faith is right in there like a dirty shirt, and for good reason. God doesn’t actually do anything. Personally, I don’t believe in a God, but if he was real, he certainly isn’t doing much of anything these days. People pray all the time, and those prayers go unanswered. That’s when we chime in with phrases like “in God’s time” and “God works in mysterious ways” to fill the gaps. But a more accurate outlook would be to say that God doesn’t work, doesn’t care, or doesn’t exist.
In the Bible, God constantly acts in the lives of the faithful. He’s there with his smiting stick the second an apple gets eaten or an Egyptian doesn’t release His people, or a woman turns back and looks at a city being razed. If you accept those stories as true, then I wonder how you reconcile the fact that he doesn’t seem to be listening?
There are no mysterious ways. There is no God’s time. There is no divine intervention. All there is is you, so help yourself, get your poop in a group, and make your life better.