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C-19 & an Encouragement Thread

Do events like the current crisis (or in resent history 9-11) prompt you towards a deeper spirituality & faith in God?  

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4/17/20 I changed the title of the thread to the encouragement thread to avoid the endless debates about religion.  Which this thread wasn't meant to be but

what it came to regardless :facepalm:

 

So I was wondering, how are some of you being creative to encourage and to be encouraged? How are you spending time with family while being apart?

Also if you have anything encouraging to share - a news article, personal experience plus what I note here in the OP,  please do so.

 

Since this is a Religion and Political forum, I wanted to touch on the spiritual side of this current crisis.   I want this to be a positive thread whereby we can encourage one other. This is not to be a 'bash religion' thread - save that for some other place please.    So if you have encouragement you can share from your own spiritual or non-spiritual perspective, please do so. Maybe a devotion you read, a Bible verse, or some other literature or just a thought you had. 

The poll and this forum were prompted by the WSJ oped piece copied below. 

 

The other day I woke up with a scripture in mind:

"Be Still and Know that I am God"  Psalm 46:10.  The first verse of that Psalm also notes that   "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble".

We are in the midst of some very anxious times. One could say more anxious than 9-11, Vietnam or any other recent crisis.  Not only are resources stretched to the core but so is our own personal reserve, our own personal emotional and spiritual strength to the limits. 

 

The verse Be Still and Know - is important to me.  It reminds me I can't control, this is beyond my control.  I can't manipulate either. It encourages me to trust. To turn to faith which can be productive versus anxiety which is not productive in the long run.  Yes there is a healthy anxiety/fear that can prompt us to productive actions. But without the productive actions, anxiety can be dangerous to our emotions and spirit.  Only has we quiet ourselves and our anxious heart can we find the reserves to be creative and inspired to act in ways that the current crisis demands of each of us. 

Psalm 46 says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   For me faith turns my attention towards God, who can be a very present help in this time of trouble.   It takes the burden off of my shoulders so to speak.  I draw on the grace He provides though times of prayer and mediation. 

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-coronavirus-great-awakening-11585262324

 

The last paragraph below sets the tone and I copy it again here:


 

Quote

 

“The ancient Hebrews, by virtue of inner resources and unparalleled leadership, turned their tragedy, turned their very helplessness, into one of the half-dozen creative moments in world history,” Butterfield wrote. “It would seem that one of the clearest and most concrete of the facts of history is the fact that men of spiritual resources may not only redeem catastrophe, but turn it into a grand creative moment.”

Could a rogue virus lead to a grand creative moment in America’s history? Will Americans, shaken by the reality of a risky universe, rediscover the God who proclaimed himself sovereign over every catastrophe?

 

Quote

 

Could a plague of biblical proportions be America’s best hope for religious revival? As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, there is reason to think so.

Three-quarters of a century has dimmed the memory of that gruesome conflict and its terrible consequences: tens of millions killed, great cities bombed to rubble, Europe and Asia stricken by hunger and poverty. Those who survived the war had to grapple with the kinds of profound questions that only arise in the aftermath of calamity. Gazing at the ruins from his window at Cambridge University, British historian Herbert Butterfield chose to make sense of it by turning to the Hebrew Bible.

“The power of the Old Testament teaching on history—perhaps the point at which the ancient Jews were most original, breaking away from the religious thought of the other peoples around them—lay precisely in the region of truths which sprang from a reflection on catastrophe and cataclysm,” Butterfield wrote in “Christianity and History” (1949). “It is almost impossible properly to appreciate the higher developments in the historical reflection of the Old Testament except in another age which has experienced (or has found itself confronted with) colossal cataclysm.”

Americans, chastened by the horrors of war, turned to faith in search of truth and meaning. In the late 1940s, Gallup surveys showed more than three-quarters of Americans were members of a house of worship, compared with about half today. Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Some would later call this a Third Great Awakening.

 

Today the world faces another moment of cataclysm. Though less devastating than World War II, the pandemic has remade everyday life and wrecked the global economy in a way that feels apocalyptic.

 

The experience is new and disorienting. Life had been deceptively easy until now. Our ancestors’ lives, by contrast, were guaranteed to be short and painful. The lucky ones survived birth. The luckier ones made it past childhood. Only in the past 200 years has humanity truly taken off. We now float through an anomalous world of air conditioning, 911 call centers, acetaminophen and pocket-size computers containing nearly the sum of human knowledge. We reduced nature to “the shackled form of a conquered monster,” as Joseph Conrad once put it, and took control of our fate. God became irrelevant.

Who will save us now that the monster has broken free?

“Men may live to a great age in days of comparative quietness and peaceful progress, without ever having come to grips with the universe, without ever vividly realising the problems and the paradoxes with which human history so often confronts us,” Butterfield wrote. “We of the twentieth century have been particularly spoiled; for the men of the Old Testament, the ancient Greeks and all our ancestors down to the seventeenth century betray in their

philosophy and their outlook a terrible awareness of the chanciness of human life, and the precarious nature of man’s existence in this risky universe.”

The past four years have been some of the most contentious and embarrassing in American history. Squabbling over trivialities has left the public frantic and divided, oblivious to the transcendent. But the pandemic has humbled the country and opened millions of eyes to this risky universe once more.

“Sheer grimness of suffering brings men sometimes into a profounder understanding of human destiny,” Butterfield wrote. Sometimes “it is only by a cataclysm,” he continued, “that man can make his escape from the net which he has taken so much trouble to weave around himself.”

For societies founded on the biblical tradition, cataclysms need not mark the end. They are a call for repentance and revival. As the coronavirus pandemic subjects U.S. hospitals to a fearsome test, Americans can find solace in the same place that Butterfield did. Great struggle can produce great clarity.

 

“The ancient Hebrews, by virtue of inner resources and unparalleled leadership, turned their tragedy, turned their very helplessness, into one of the half-dozen creative moments in world history,” Butterfield wrote. “It would seem that one of the clearest and most concrete of the facts of history is the fact that men of spiritual resources may not only redeem catastrophe, but turn it into a grand creative moment.”

Could a rogue virus lead to a grand creative moment in America’s history? Will Americans, shaken by the reality of a risky universe, rediscover the God who proclaimed himself sovereign over every catastrophe?

 

 

Mr. Nicholson is president of the Philos Project.

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I said "no" to both.

 

For #1, I believe it does make me look closer to what is truly important in life: family, simple joys, etc.  But if anything it shows that the God we "want" to think exists doesn't.  I think the God that it makes me believe in would be one that didn't create humans to be caretakers, we are just part of the whole system.  There is nothing "special" about us (yes, we are a pretty awesome species, also pretty disgusting), that's why I find the simple joys.  Just like a dog who experiences heaven by sunning in front window.

 

#2: If by spiritual, you mean religious? No.  If anything, I see people realizing the importance of trying to make the world better now.  This theology would be more in line with my own.  Try to make the world better now so as many people can experience as much good as possible during our time on this earth.  Heaven is too often used as an excuse to allow suffering because "their award will be in Heaven".  I think that way of thinking is very irresponsible. 

 

Edit: Funny.  I just got our monthly email from the church that I'm still a member of.  In the pastor's letter to the congregation he writes that even though we are suffering now, we should take comfort that one day the suffering will end.  

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1.  No.  My spirituality is not affected by Covid-19, cancer, car wrecks, or any of life's other calamities.  God "sends rain on the just and the unjust alike." (Matt 5:45)   I don't think Covid-19 is any sort of judgment.  The faithful as well as the faithless will die.  Covid-19like all diseases, natural disasters and imperfectionsis the result of mankind inviting sin into the world.  I feel sorry for people who lose faith over things like Covid-19.  I have to wonder about people who gain faith as well.  

 

2.  Yes, for a short time.  All sorts of people profess faith when they think the end is near.  But when it turns out not to be the case they generally drift away again.  

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39 minutes ago, funhusker said:

Heaven is too often used as an excuse to allow suffering because "their award will be in Heaven".  I think that way of thinking is very irresponsible. 

I agree with this.  Actually our reward is based on what we do here and not the fact that we 

escaped here.  (our works are either made of Gold, Silver or Bronze, or wood, hay & stubble 1Corithians 3:12)There is a strong element of Christianity which sees that what we do here on earth really does matter.  Heaven isn't the escape hatch. This element of Christianity believes that the new heaven and new earth will be on this earth and that the things we do now are very important. Those who want to just escape have the wrong perspective.   Read some of NT Wright's books (some consider him the CS Lewis of our times) - esp "Surprised by Hope", "The Day the Revolution Began", & "When God Became King"

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No change, and I think rational people will fall even further away from religion.

 

People want to believe in a higher power, that's good. Whatever makes them happy. 

 

My thoughts on how Covid should be viewed through the lens of religion:


 

Spoiler

 

If a god is allowing this kind of suffering across the planet when they could snap their fingers and make this all disappear, that god is not worth worshiping. A god who creates people only to allow them to suffer is not loving. A god who could prevent this but allows it to happen is abetting the suffering. That is not a loving, holy god, that is evil.

 

We all condemn antivaxxers and parents who won't let their children have life-saving medical treatment, yet some people are OK with that behavior from a god. It's bizarre.

 

 

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Watching religious leaders contradict science and common sense just reaffirms my strong belief that religion (the system/structure not the spirituality) is just another way to extract money or power from people.

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1 hour ago, RedDenver said:

Watching religious leaders contradict science and common sense just reaffirms my strong belief that religion (the system/structure not the spirituality) is just another way to extract money or power from people.

My OP is about spirituality - not religion 

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The God of the bible is evil. The old testament proves this over and over. So if youre talking about the God of the bible then this just proves me right. Do I think there is a creator? I dont know but Id say probably. I think this creator, however, does not really care about us as the universe is endless and there are millions or billions of more Earths out there that have the same problems as us. 
 

What things like this do for me is either gain trust in my fellow human or lose faith in my fellow human. Crisis like this either brings out the best in people or brings out the worst in people.

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We don't understand to works of God.  Period.  Who was the last one to at least somewhat understand God?  Jesus? Muhammed? Joseph Smith?  I dunno.  I chose to go with Jesus.  You may choose differently and that's Okay.  

 

It's how I choose to find comfort with my faith during times like this because nowhere does it say in the New Testament (or the Old Testament for that all I know) that God will always prevent these things from happening to us.  It's why comments like "if their was a God, this would never have happened" don't hold water to me.  

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21 hours ago, Frott Scost said:

The God of the bible is evil. The old testament proves this over and over.

I think you have to read the OT as the evolution of one people group trying to understand the God of the universe. They attributed to God everything from good to evil.  That evolution of thought eventually climax into what we see in the NT in which it is proclaimed that God is Love.  As man's thinking about creation, science, math, etc, etc has evolved over the centuries so has our understanding of God. 

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On 3/29/2020 at 11:40 AM, Frott Scost said:

The God of the bible is evil.

 

 

I'm curious which one you're talking about, because there are many varying and contradicting ideas of God in the Bible. The genocidal ethnocentric nation state God is pretty horrendous, to be sure. The Jesus of Nazareth version seems pretty quality though. The Holy Spirit one and the one who made creation also seem alright. 

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19 hours ago, Landlord said:

 

 

I'm curious which one you're talking about, because there are many varying and contradicting ideas of God in the Bible. The genocidal ethnocentric nation state God is pretty horrendous, to be sure. The Jesus of Nazareth version seems pretty quality though. The Holy Spirit one and the one who made creation also seem alright. 

 

Plot twist - they're all the same dude.

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God could have made us as automatons under his strict control.  Earth would have been like heaven.  No death, no disease, no crime, no evil.  But instead he gave us the ability to choose for ourselves.  We have a long history of choosing evil. 

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