Applied faith

Pete’s post “No suffering for the chosen few” reminds me of a story about a man who was very sick, and believed that God would heal him. His friends were very worried and sent the local doctor to see him, but he said “no, do not come in, I have faith that God will heal me”. So his concerned friends sent a specialist, and the specialist convinced the man to let him see him, but then refused all treatments the specialists prescribed. “God will heal me he said”. A few days later the man died. Once he got to Heaven he met with God. “God”, he said “I had faith that you would heal me and you did not”. God responded “I sent all those doctors, what else were you expecting?”.

I question the belief that God acts only in miracles, and only for those who are ‘worthy’ or ‘devout’. To me the story above illustrates the difference between blind faith and applied faith. Napolean Hill said that faith “has to be actively directed in some direction”.

I do consider it possible that those who have applied faith may often do better in life, and have less suffering. Regarding the quote Pete cites “…I was young, now I am old, but I have never seen a righteous man go hungry, or his children begging for bread.”, I think it is possible that it’s not some arbitrary reward handed down from on high, but that this applied faith leads the ‘righteous person’ to do something about impending hunger, to provide for their family. That said, I acknowledge the terrible suffering that can come to people no matter how much applied faith they have, Tom Fox being a very clear example of this to me.

This leads me to the difference between physical suffering and spiritual suffering. Faith may not always be able to protect us from physical suffering. Perhaps though, it can make a difference in emotional/mental/spiritual suffering. On this line of thought, maybe it’s not so much what happens to us, but how we react to it, the meaning we assign to it. Victor Frankl writes in Man’s Search for Meaning about the holocaust victims who lived with him in a Nazi concentration camp, that those that survived were the ones that were able to create some meaning for themselves in the situation. Many lived because they were resolutely committed to surviving to tell their story, to make sure this never happened every again on Earth.

He says “Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” p.104. There are some more quotes here.

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One Response to “Applied faith”

  1. Pete Says:

    Good point about applied faith leading the “righteous” person to do something about impending hunger. I’d not seen it from that angle. 🙂

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