Is This Real Life?

Is This Real LifeStressed out after the Roy/Jess drama on Sunday, I drove to the park for some alone time. As I drove past rows and rows of cars – hurt and frustrated – I said out loud in a tired voice, “God, will you provide parking for me?”

At that instant, the passenger in the car in front of me rolled down their window, pointed off to the right, and kept driving. I looked to where the arm had pointed, and there – right where the arm had pointed – was a parking spot.

Dumbfounded, I pulled into the spot, put my car in park, and said out loud in bewilderment, “Thanks.”

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day.” -CS Lewis

Authentically Aurora

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27 thoughts on “Is This Real Life?

    • Is that sarcasm I sense, John? I think it’s wonderful to be reminded that God is intimately familiar with the simplest, most minute details of our lives. Faith is like a muscle that grows as we exercise it, and though it may seem mundane to you, daily events like this that I ascribe to God’s provision grow my faith to trust Him with the bigger things.

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    • God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. His time is not limited. Just as a compliment to me is not an insult to you, God’s provision of a minuscule blessing in my life does not detract from his care and attention to the plight of Syrian refugees.

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      • Of all the ills in the world, the one God actually did deal with, in your mind, is your need for a parking space so that you could unwind.
        And yet, you don’t think that would be insulting to the people who actually need something who are not receiving? There are people with real plights and suffering who are not helped. But you could park in a designated parking space, therefore God is good.
        Amen.

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        • Thanks for the continued comments. I appreciate the dialogue.
          We all have seasons of receiving from God and then seasons where God seems silent. If you read more of my blog, you would know some of my own experiences with the dark night of the soul.
          This world is broken, and life is hard. But for me to praise God for the little blessings of each day is not wrong. It would be the greater wrong not to acknowledge His part in them or to be thankful for them. In fact, it’s these little blessings of provision that strengthen my faith and love to the point where, in the last couple of weeks, I started making inquiries about how to personally go abroad to aid Syrian refugees.
          God is able to use everything for good – every blessing and every suffering. If we let them, they can all have greater purpose. Nothing need be wasted.

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        • I know this is a rude thing to say, but that is awfully tortured logic.
          It makes much more sense to take the broader view that ‘stuff happens’ and it isn’t all authored and it doesn’t all have a moralistic slant to it.
          It is, quite frankly, obscene to assume that a God would concern Itself with your parking space while there is starvation and drought and war and sickness.
          From any perspective, why would God ensure you a parking space when there are so many natural things that cause untold misery that It doesn’t resolve?
          Why would anyone thank a God that orchestrates the order of things to such a level that you get a parking space at the time and place you want it, but that very same order of things includes leukaemia and drought and still births?

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        • I appreciate your candor. Thanks for being willing to ask the hard questions and to do so in a kind and respectful way.
          If I thought of God only as the Almighty, Divine Creator and not also as a Loving Father, I would agree with you that it would be absolutely ridiculous to think He would concern Himself with something as trivial as a parking space. But because I believe God lovingly knit me together in my mother’s womb and loves me as a daughter, I believe that He is intimately concerned with the details of my life, from everything as significant as a broken engagement and death of a loved one to days that are just exhausting for no other reason than life is hard.
          It is troubling and disconcerting to see provision in minor, insignificant events and then feel as though God is turning a blind eye to the absolute terror and desolation we see going on elsewhere in the world. I hold to the fact that your desire to see rescue, help, healing, restoration and even justice is a God-given desire. We were created with a longing to see all things made right because that is the way this world was meant to be. We currently live in a broken, fallen world, but all of the pain allows us to see our need for a Savior, Rescuer and Redeemer who will someday come to make all things right. I don’t always understand why God allows the pain and suffering that He does, but I believe that He is good, and I believe that He is sovereign with unseen purposes to weave all things together for good.

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        • Have you ever pondered the possibility that the suffering is “allowed” because there is no Father and no Creator? That this world is not orchestrated and that, in fact, stuff just happens?
          Does it not make more sense that suffering and desolation, which is distinctly different across geographic lines (not moral ones) is actually not part of a plan, but impersonal nature?
          We can use natural sciences to explain so much of the suffering, and politics to explain the rest. It’s a nihilistic explanation. But, isn’t that better than an explanation where the suffering is planned and permitted?

          Given the billions of people who have already lived and died in suffering and agony, I don’t see how a promise of salvation for another generation is any excuse at all. Billions of people suffer and die in waiting, never seeing the “fruits” of this promise of “salvation”. Is that weaved together for good? How can it be? They’re already dead.

          I’m not normally one to advocate disbelief in God because it makes more moral sense. I normally present arguments more critically minded. But your gushing gratitude for a parking space, in a world where more people have suffered and died than currently exist, and intellectualising of the suffering being part of the same narrative, with a promise of redemption (even for the already-dead?) is so at odds with any moral sense any person would attempt to make of the world in any other domain.

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        • Yes, I have considered that possibility. And I found it exceedingly empty and sad.
          First, to your point of suffering across geographic/moral lines: I agree with you that suffering is generally distinct across geographic lines and not moral ones, but that is because God loves all mankind and provides both sun and rain for everyone regardless of their belief or disbelief. There is a common misunderstanding that Christians believe we are in a right relationship with God because we are “good people” or because we do “good things.” This is not biblical. I believe I am redeemed from my sins and brought into right relationship with God by the grace of God, through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who took the punishment I deserve for my waywardness. If the Father-daughter relationship I share with God is not by my own doing but purely by His grace, I have no reason to believe suffering and desolation should occur because of moral lines. We are all sinful and broken people, and yet God loves us all. Therefore, yes, we see suffering across geographic lines rather than moral ones.

          Counter to human logic though it may be, I believe there is benefit to suffering. We only appreciate the good times when we have experienced the bad. Our character is refined, our hearts are purified, and we can see more clearly and love more deeply when we have been wounded greatly. The darker the darkness, the brighter the stars appear to shine. We cannot arrive at the same conclusion regarding suffering if we do not begin with the same premise, so I do not expect to change your mind but rather to explain my own. I believe our purpose on this earth is to know and love God, resting in His presence and honoring him with the way we live. If that is the case, then it does make sense that suffering would be permitted, since suffering has a tendency to make us ask the hard questions and either recoil from God or draw closer to Him. When we don’t understand something (like the pain of this world), the natural reaction is to draw closer to understand it and, in so doing in this case means drawing closer to God, fulfilling our purpose of knowing and loving Him.

          As to billions of Christians dying without seeing the fruit of their labor, we are not promised to see rewards this side of death. We may never see the results of our choices before we die, but we are promised that we will each given an account of our lives in heaven and be rewarded accordingly. That may seem foolhardy to you, but that is faith: believing in the unseen. In fact, I propose that, much as they scoff at the concept of faith, atheists exercise a faith of their own. God has neither been proven nor disproven, so we all believe what we do on the basis of faith – belief in the unseen and unproven.

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  1. From a harmless and pure account here, and taking note of the comments, as well as the inspiration for chatter elsewhere………I must say, you have artfully answered your visitors and the spirit in which you carry your points is exemplary.

    Who could imagine that such an innocuous turning of the wheel into a spot in a lot, could be such fodder for the other things in life. Well done AA.

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  2. Aurora–I admire and appreciate your calm and compassionate conversation with these commenters (alliteration unintended). You have presented a shining example and picture of Christian faith, and I hope they will consider the significance of what you have written.
    Of course it is neither arrogant or petty to thank God for small blessings. Christians appropriately thank God for sunny days and a glimpse of beautiful flowers, for parking spaces and green lights, for family and friends and all the good things they have. Christians also accept the rainy days, the patches of mud, the red lights, as well as the bigger problems of the world. If I won the lottery (which would be odd, since I don’t buy lottery tickets), I would thank God for the gift. That would not mean that I thought I deserved it more than all the others, or needed it more than all the others, or would handle the wealth better than all the others. We thank God for what we have and do our best to use it responsibly, while also seeking help for our neighbors in need–helping them ourselves, as best we can, and asking God to help them also.
    As you say, God permits suffering for a number of reasons. He has no obligation to report his reasons to us. “Stuff happens,” yes, some of it tragic. From this we see that evil is real (and, that evil is random and unfair), which is reason for us to seek a God who is good. What could be more loving than a God who enters an evil world and endures suffering in it, all to rescue the people who are suffering and bring them to himself? It saddens me that some people blame the God-in-whom-they-do-not-believe for all the bad in the world while criticizing people like you for thanking God when something good happens.
    Thank you, Aurora, for sharing and defending your thankfulness and your faith. J.

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    • Thanks, J. I really appreciate your thoughts, encouragement, input (and pingback)! It’s comforting to be reminded of the fellowship we have with other believers in Christ and to be unified and spurred on to love and good deeds.

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  3. Pingback: On thanking God | Salvageable

  4. Hello there!

    Admittedly there are a lot of different issues floating about in your post and in the comments, but I’d like to throw in my two cents if I may. Apologies in advance for the long comment.

    Sometimes good things can happen to good people without the need for divine intervention. From the facts you related above, the passenger could have pointed at the parking space because he or she didn’t like how the driver was passing up empty spaces in favor of a better one. I live with three people who constantly do this, and if it’s an answered prayer, then I’ve answered many, many prayers over my lifetime.

    While I am an atheist, I don’t begrudge you feeling grateful for a benefit you feel you’ve received. That said, I also don’t think you should count yourself out of contributing to your own good fortune. You had to have parked in that particular space in order for the coincidence to work to your benefit. So, you deserve at least a little of the credit for finding relief.

    Finally, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that atheists have faith just like theists do. This thought gets spread around a lot, and it doesn’t actually take into account what atheists believe (or don’t believe). Consider that nobody has conclusively proven Odin doesn’t exist. I’m sure you have some pretty legitimate reasons for believing Odin might not be out there after all, or at least as to why you’re not persuaded Odin exists. Does this mean you have faith that Odin doesn’t exist? What about other deities? I point all this out to say that not being persuaded isn’t the same as having faith that one is right.

    The reason why I address this last point is that as you talk with more atheists, you might find we’re just as diverse as Christians are. Painting us with the faith brush is similar to when atheists paint Christians with inaccurate brushes. While people will do that to each other, it doesn’t make it right.

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    • Speaking of paint brushes, I find it an amusing irony, Sirius, that there have been Christians who have claimed that atheists eat babies – ancient Jews once said the same of early Christians, largely based on their clandestine meetings (for fear of persecution).

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    • Hi Sirius! Thanks for stopping by and for the great comment! I really like a lot of the thoughts you shared.

      I had an interesting conversation just yesterday with someone about the concept of divine appointment versus free will. To your point that you shouldn’t “count yourself out of contributing to your own good fortune”, I wholeheartedly agree. I believe that, although God has foreknowledge of events and has the power to affect them doesn’t mean that I completely discount the power of free will to impact our own lives. I do not see God as a puppet master controlling our every thought and decision. In fact, much of scripture encourages us to be wise and prudent, planning for the future and making good choices with the free will given to us.

      I love your comment about how you may have answered many prayers over your lifetime! Yes! I believe you have! I believe that God delivers blessings most often through other people. My goal is to be a willing instrument in God’s hands; an active participant in blessing others rather than being used in spite of myself.

      Thanks also for the kind warning not to paint all atheists with the same brush and for not ascribing their lack of persuasion with faith. You are very insightful and articulate, and I am grateful for the comments!

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