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Author Topic: How Do I Learn to Thank God?  (Read 517 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 05, 2014, 06:18:47 AM »

I have trouble accepting that I owe God anything and/or that I should be thankful toward God. For starters, I don't really see what He ever did for me. He died for me? Well, to be honest, I never asked to exist. He is the one who created me against my will, and maybe if He didn't mess up in the first place, He wouldn't have had to die.

When I recite our prayers and see the constant "I owe you so much/I'm so thankful" type phrases and attitudes, I feel like I'm lying to myself and to God because I don't honestly feel thankful toward Him or feel like I owe Him anything. As far as I'm concerned, He just seems like an absent, dead-beat father who thinks that his children owe him something simply because he orgasmed them into existence.

I feel like when we constantly thank God for everything, we're giving Him undeserved credit because most everything we have, we have it because we worked for it. I don't think we get things because of God; I think we get them in spite of God. Plus, we never asked to exist. He's the one who thrust us all into existence because of His own personal needs and/or desires. Aren't we already doing Him favor enough by existing even though we never asked to? Shouldn't He owe us something for making us be His laboratory rats?

And this whole thing begs another question; how could we even know if something is a gift from Gos when it could easily just have been a coincidence or been because we personally worked for it? When God is as silent, absent, and detached as He is, wouldn't it be wiser to assume that He wasn't behind the good things that we have?
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2014, 07:04:33 AM »

You owe Him your life, your health, all the privileges that you take for granted every day, down to the breath you use to rant against Him.

You keep using that word, 'coincidence'... I don't think it means what you think it means. Two or more events taking place at the same time does not necessarily mean there is no cause behind them. The word you need is 'randomness'... and even if you believe in randomness, you can't prove it on a case-by-case basis.

As for acquiring things because we worked for them... lolwut? You've had a sheltered life, haven't you?
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2014, 07:42:21 AM »

James,

I'm in the same boat. Personally, I don't thank God for anything that I am (my own existence, attributes, accomplishments). I thank God for giving Himself to me. I thank God for God. What I find in myself is my own, but what is found in God is His and His to give. I believe that God is all-precious and all-desirable (even though, we have to admit that the way a lot of religion presents God to us is far from impressive and desirable).
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2014, 08:24:19 AM »

It takes practice. It's hard to be grateful if you are not happy. But start from the fact that you are still alive, so you have a chance to do things in the future. Move on from that. 
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2014, 09:46:38 AM »

In addition to practicing gratitude, I would recommend praying for it.  But pray for it sincerely.  If God wants you to have it, he will give it to you...and it will mostly entail opportunities to practice it. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2014, 10:23:39 AM »

I have *extreme* difficulty with this one as well.

Part of an answer I received when speaking to a priest about it was that us going down the line of asking how come God didn't give us a choice to exist or not is problematic because we're then placing ourselves in His position - giving ourselves power to choose whether or not we're allowed to live or die. He called it very self-referential.

Bear in mind I don't agree with or know how to integrate it very well, but maybe it might be of help?

You owe Him your life, your health, all the privileges that you take for granted every day, down to the breath you use to rant against Him.

As far as I understand it the point he's making is that he wouldn't need the life, health, privileges, breath, etc, if he didn't exist, and he wasn't given the choice to exist or not.

Plus, we never asked to exist. He's the one who thrust us all into existence because of His own personal needs and/or desires. Aren't we already doing Him favor enough by existing even though we never asked to? Shouldn't He owe us something for making us be His laboratory rats?
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2014, 11:53:25 AM »

If it's an intellectual problem, you don't rationally see how God is the cause of the good things that happen to you and not of the bad things, and how He is doing everything He can to save you from the bad things (an no, omnipotence does not mean "can do anything"). In that case, the short answer is: God is the effective cause of the beginning of the universe only and not at all the material cause of the universe (that would be pantheism). For all the rest He is the formal and final cause and you could not have anything good if not from Him and He is the cause of everything that is good, beautiful and holy. If it's a rational matter, get to study these terms more.

If it's an emotional issue, then you need pastoral advice, that will hardly come from the internet. Seek a spiritually mature person (priests should be that, but not always). But it has to be personal contact.

A good clue about that is.. do you feel gratitude toward anyone at all? Sincerily? Do you think that anyone has ever done something to you that is good and that you could not have done for yourself? Or maybe you could, but that the person did it for you out of love? Do you have a tender feeling of owing this person love and respect? If you don't see how people have been good and loving to you even when you didn't ask for it, if you are not grateful to those people, then it *is* an emotional and spiritual problem. If when people do good things to you without you asking for it you feel they are "imposing" or trying to "blackmail" you, then it's up to you to grow discernment in order to see the difference between those who are being honest and those who are really trying to manipulate you. Believing that all are good or bad intentioned is a great mistake. And the true gratitude for the first kind of people is the one we should have for God.

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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2014, 12:05:42 PM »

You owe Him your life, your health, all the privileges that you take for granted every day, down to the breath you use to rant against Him.

As far as I understand it the point he's making is that he wouldn't need the life, health, privileges, breath, etc, if he didn't exist, and he wasn't given the choice to exist or not.

How and why would one ask the nonexistent for an opinion or a choice?

I've heard a lot of such rants, and invariably they boil down to the 'why do I have such a sucky life and so-and-so gets everything to drop in their lap?' kind of entitled whining. It's very hard not to respond with something along the lines of 'you're not that special, snowflake'.

What matters is not what kind of hand you're dealt, but how you play it. And if you say thanks to the bagger at the supermarket, why is it so hard to say thanks to the One who could have squished you like a bug any day, and instead makes sure you don't lack?
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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2014, 12:17:56 PM »

And we should thank God for what we have (good in us) but don't expect things to fall out of the sky just like that. From what I see you have a brilliant mind. Start from there. I think theologians say the door of divine help starts with humility and gratitude. Work for everything you want, work to make it happen, work with what you have and remember you can improve anything and turn even weaknesses into strengths. The bad thoughts are the one's that makes us "blapsheme" for a certain weakness instead of working to turn it into a strength, do our best and when we think we cannot do more ask God's help. No one who is up got there for nothing. Everyone who has something in life has worked(for it or to preserve it). Everyone has weak points. Appearances are often misleading. I think this ingratitudes come from being indolent.

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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2014, 12:49:50 PM »

How and why would one ask the nonexistent for an opinion or a choice?

I've heard a lot of such rants, and invariably they boil down to the 'why do I have such a sucky life and so-and-so gets everything to drop in their lap?' kind of entitled whining. It's very hard not to respond with something along the lines of 'you're not that special, snowflake'.

What matters is not what kind of hand you're dealt, but how you play it. And if you say thanks to the bagger at the supermarket, why is it so hard to say thanks to the One who could have squished you like a bug any day, and instead makes sure you don't lack?

Before I begin I just want to say I'm only using my own interpretation - the OP may well look at things in a different light. Also as relates this post, when I say you throughout this post I mean hypothetical, not literal, so please don't take my comments personally or as an attack on you.

How? This is purely in the realm of ideas but I'd always imagined my soul being asked "do you want to be born or not", and seeing a video of everything that would happen in my life playing out, and being asked to decide, yes or no.

Why? Well, some people don't believe that life is <insert reason here> and would prefer not to have embarked on the whole venture.

The thing is you get put into a difficult situation outside of your desire or control - something you maybe don't feel or think you're capable of dealing with, and at the same time something that is very important, and have to deal with it regardless. It then gets extrapolated backwards to the sense of life itself, but not having been given that choice. I don't mean something relatively trivial like not getting to have a packet of gummy bears, or a new video game, or something like that. I mean something serious.

To use an extreme example, say Steven and his wife get married, and two or three months later have a baby, but on the way home from the hospital, the child and wife get killed in a car accident which Steven survives. Yes he could be grateful (and hopefully is) to be alive, but then again his wife and child are dead and there's that sense of loss and pain which doesn't seem to get addressed. That's what I mean by "situation outside of your desire or control".

Saying that the hand you're dealt with and how you play it matters is true, but again, not addressing the pain behind it and only being thankful for what could've been worse leads to problems. Not everyone is capable of dealing with things in the same way - one thing might be relatively trivial for someone, and pretty crippling for the next which is part of the problem. 

Put it like this. Of course there are others who have things worse than us, but why shouldn't we be looking at those people who have things better than us and hope for that? After all, you've [literal] said that God is the "One who could have squished you like a bug". Yes He could've. He could also have given you money beyond your counting, friends aplenty, a safe, healthy, and happy family, and all the rest of it, but hasn't.
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2014, 12:56:07 PM »

How? This is purely in the realm of ideas but I'd always imagined my soul being asked "do you want to be born or not", and seeing a video of everything that would happen in my life playing out, and being asked to decide, yes or no.

That's cute, but we don't believe in the preexistence of souls, and how your life will play out depends majorly on what you choose to do with it. God is able to see all possible combinations, we aren't.

The thing is you get put into a situation outside of your desire or control - something you maybe don't feel or think you're capable of dealing with, and at the same time something that is very important, and have to deal with it regardless. It then gets extrapolated backwards to the sense of life itself, but not having been given that choice. I don't mean something relatively trivial like not getting to have a packet of gummy bears, or a new video game, or something like that. I mean something serious.

Welcome to the school of hard knocks, aka Life.

Saying that the hand you're dealt with and how you play it matters is true, but again, not addressing the pain behind it and only being thankful for what could've been worse leads to problems. Not everyone is capable of dealing with things in the same way - one thing might be relatively trivial for someone, and pretty crippling for the next which is part of the problem.

No, not everyone can. That's why we need to start small. If we can't be trusted with the little things, we can't be trusted with the big stuff either.

Put it like this. Of course there are others who have things worse than us, but why shouldn't we be looking at those people who have things better than us and hope for that? After all, you've [literal] said that God is the "One who could have squished you like a bug". Yes He could've. He could also have given you money beyond your counting, friends aplenty, a safe, healthy, and happy family, and all the rest of it, but hasn't.

Definitely hope. Absolutely ask for what you want. Positively work towards bettering your condition. And at the end of the day, remember that God will give you what you need, not what you think you want/need/deserve. That's what care and 'not lacking' is.
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2014, 01:46:56 PM »

How? This is purely in the realm of ideas but I'd always imagined my soul being asked "do you want to be born or not", and seeing a video of everything that would happen in my life playing out, and being asked to decide, yes or no.

That's cute, but we don't believe in the preexistence of souls, and how your life will play out depends majorly on what you choose to do with it. God is able to see all possible combinations, we aren't.

The thing is you get put into a situation outside of your desire or control - something you maybe don't feel or think you're capable of dealing with, and at the same time something that is very important, and have to deal with it regardless. It then gets extrapolated backwards to the sense of life itself, but not having been given that choice. I don't mean something relatively trivial like not getting to have a packet of gummy bears, or a new video game, or something like that. I mean something serious.

Welcome to the school of hard knocks, aka Life.

Saying that the hand you're dealt with and how you play it matters is true, but again, not addressing the pain behind it and only being thankful for what could've been worse leads to problems. Not everyone is capable of dealing with things in the same way - one thing might be relatively trivial for someone, and pretty crippling for the next which is part of the problem.

No, not everyone can. That's why we need to start small. If we can't be trusted with the little things, we can't be trusted with the big stuff either.

Put it like this. Of course there are others who have things worse than us, but why shouldn't we be looking at those people who have things better than us and hope for that? After all, you've [literal] said that God is the "One who could have squished you like a bug". Yes He could've. He could also have given you money beyond your counting, friends aplenty, a safe, healthy, and happy family, and all the rest of it, but hasn't.

Definitely hope. Absolutely ask for what you want. Positively work towards bettering your condition. And at the end of the day, remember that God will give you what you need, not what you think you want/need/deserve. That's what care and 'not lacking' is.

I'm not sure what you mean by cute. Yes. I was told that that's Origen who believed in the preexistence of a soul. It doesn't entirely refute the question of how, though, nor does it stop the mind from wondering that. 

However, saying "school of hard knocks", doesn't really address the pain that the person has to deal with. It reinforces the original point of being put in x position, then being expected to be thankful to God that things aren't somehow worse than they already are, when in fact they could've been better than they are without conceivably much difficulty. 

I agree, and I'd also venture to say that gaining control of the mind to help stop, or at least slow down the thoughts from occurring is a component as well. Prayer is one thing that can help here. 

I agree but your response does come back to the original premise. Of course, there is indeed a key difference between the two which can be difficult to tell, but if you're facing those (for you [hypothetical]) crippling difficulties it becomes something rather different. It opens up a can of worms (I can elaborate here if you wish but I hope what I'm saying makes sense). If it's an example of "care and not-lack", then it seems to me that that is just giving you the bare minimum that you need to survive. Notice that I say survive, not thrive, grow, improve, or anything similar.
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 02:18:33 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean by cute. Yes. I was told that that's Origen who believed in the preexistence of a soul. It doesn't entirely refute the question of how, though, nor does it stop the mind from wondering that.

Wonder away. I have nothing against imagination, as long as we're clear that that's all it is.

However, saying "school of hard knocks", doesn't really address the pain that the person has to deal with. It reinforces the original point of being put in x position, then being expected to be thankful to God that things aren't somehow worse than they already are, when in fact they could've been better than they are without conceivably much difficulty.

Things are never so bad that they couldn't be worse. Cheesy They could be better, of course, but the question is whether they would actually be more beneficial. A diabetic would have a cream cake over an insulin jab any day, but which one is actually good for them?

I agree but your response does come back to the original premise. Of course, there is indeed a key difference between the two which can be difficult to tell, but if you're facing those (for you [hypothetical]) crippling difficulties it becomes something rather different. It opens up a can of worms (I can elaborate here if you wish but I hope what I'm saying makes sense). If it's an example of "care and not-lack", then it seems to me that that is just giving you the bare minimum that you need to survive. Notice that I say survive, not thrive, grow, improve, or anything similar.

Live long enough, and you'll likely come across crippling difficulties of some kind - health, relationship, finances, any and all. And if they are difficult enough, and all human avenues seem closed, who is there left to turn to but God? Feeling powerless is terrible, but it points you towards where real power comes from. Ask, receive, and be thankful, rather than sulk because you expected more.

My family is only now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel after five years of near-unemployment and living literally on the edge. I cried and complained a lot, when I thought I couldn't take any more, but at the end of the day, I was sincerely grateful that, for one more day, we had food on the table, our utilities running and the house was not repossessed.
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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2014, 02:58:37 PM »

I have trouble accepting that I owe God anything and/or that I should be thankful toward God. For starters, I don't really see what He ever did for me. He died for me? Well, to be honest, I never asked to exist. He is the one who created me against my will, and maybe if He didn't mess up in the first place, He wouldn't have had to die.

When I recite our prayers and see the constant "I owe you so much/I'm so thankful" type phrases and attitudes, I feel like I'm lying to myself and to God because I don't honestly feel thankful toward Him or feel like I owe Him anything. As far as I'm concerned, He just seems like an absent, dead-beat father who thinks that his children owe him something simply because he orgasmed them into existence.

I feel like when we constantly thank God for everything, we're giving Him undeserved credit because most everything we have, we have it because we worked for it. I don't think we get things because of God; I think we get them in spite of God. Plus, we never asked to exist. He's the one who thrust us all into existence because of His own personal needs and/or desires. Aren't we already doing Him favor enough by existing even though we never asked to? Shouldn't He owe us something for making us be His laboratory rats?

And this whole thing begs another question; how could we even know if something is a gift from God when it could easily just have been a coincidence or been because we personally worked for it? When God is as silent, absent, and detached as He is, wouldn't it be wiser to assume that He wasn't behind the good things that we have?

Make a habit of saying thanks to God after everything notable, good or bad, in your life for a couple of days and see if it catches on.  God does not move or change, it is you who must seek him.
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2014, 03:03:11 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean by cute. Yes. I was told that that's Origen who believed in the preexistence of a soul. It doesn't entirely refute the question of how, though, nor does it stop the mind from wondering that.

Wonder away. I have nothing against imagination, as long as we're clear that that's all it is.

However, saying "school of hard knocks", doesn't really address the pain that the person has to deal with. It reinforces the original point of being put in x position, then being expected to be thankful to God that things aren't somehow worse than they already are, when in fact they could've been better than they are without conceivably much difficulty.

Things are never so bad that they couldn't be worse. Cheesy They could be better, of course, but the question is whether they would actually be more beneficial. A diabetic would have a cream cake over an insulin jab any day, but which one is actually good for them?

I agree but your response does come back to the original premise. Of course, there is indeed a key difference between the two which can be difficult to tell, but if you're facing those (for you [hypothetical]) crippling difficulties it becomes something rather different. It opens up a can of worms (I can elaborate here if you wish but I hope what I'm saying makes sense). If it's an example of "care and not-lack", then it seems to me that that is just giving you the bare minimum that you need to survive. Notice that I say survive, not thrive, grow, improve, or anything similar.

Live long enough, and you'll likely come across crippling difficulties of some kind - health, relationship, finances, any and all. And if they are difficult enough, and all human avenues seem closed, who is there left to turn to but God? Feeling powerless is terrible, but it points you towards where real power comes from. Ask, receive, and be thankful, rather than sulk because you expected more.

My family is only now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel after five years of near-unemployment and living literally on the edge. I cried and complained a lot, when I thought I couldn't take any more, but at the end of the day, I was sincerely grateful that, for one more day, we had food on the table, our utilities running and the house was not repossessed.

Oh indeed. Just as an aside, how come you make the point of saying it's just imagination?

That's true. The difference though, between the diabetic's cream cake and the insulin is that the doctor can tell you what'll happen with the cream cake, and how it'll negatively affect you, whereas the insulin can be shown (and you can be told how) it'll help you. Like a lot of things it's gain now pain later with the cake, and pain now gain later with the insulin. Not all situations are as black and white, and it's the lack of foreknowledge (as well as a lack of will, and a desire to avoid suffering) which helps make things more difficult. I maintain, though, that the pain that underlies all of this needs to be addressed, and I've found that people [hypothetical] are all too willing to avoid addressing or sometimes even talking about the pain or avenues of actually addressing it - IMO this is a very serious mistake. 

Yes that's true. That's the thing, though: we're meant to be thankful for all of the blessings, but when it comes to the other things somehow things get a bit hazier.

Notice what you've said:

Quote
...And if they are difficult enough, and all human avenues seem closed, who is there left to turn to but God? Feeling powerless is terrible, but it points you towards where real power comes from...

God is the one with the real power, but rather than grant us a better situation than what we have, He gives us what we have and we're supposed to be glad for that. This is the crux of the matter. The thing is, people don't want to endure pain, suffering, loss, etc. Extrapolated backwards, one doesn't need to have endured any of this in the first place. It's well and good to say that pain teaches you things, you grow in adversity, etc, etc, etc, but to actually say it, and then do it, and/or endure it with a smile is something else completely different. If it were up to God, He could give us a different "hand" as it were, and that "hand" would be easier to deal with, and still beneficial. Or we didn't have to be here. There are all sorts of alternative possibilities rather than the one one is given that could've happened, but instead the hand we are given is the hand we're given. It returns to being thankful for things not being worse, because God could choose to relieve the pain, or any other multitude of things, but doesn't. As I read the original post, that's the interpretation I come away with. God could choose to do things differently but doesn't, and we're supposed to just be thankful "because".

I understand your idea of "care and not-lack" but to me, that doesn't seem very much like care, or not-lack, let alone both, or love. It sounds as though you're given a hand, and meant to deal with it and not wish you had anything else, or different, no matter what the consequences to you or anyone else are. Of course, you did say ask, recieve, and be thankful, but I bring to point two things. One, one does not ask for this life in the first place. Two, one does not always receive, which again goes back to being thankful "because".

I cannot comment very much on what happened to your family but it sounds extremely difficult and taxing to deal with, and I'm sorry that you've had to go through it. I will merely point out that you said you cried and complained, and it seems to me as though you wished things were different during the time. That is something that God could've done, but chose for whatever reason not to. To me, at least, being thankful for having food, utilities, and a home doesn't sound like being thankful for abundance, or anything much above that bare minimum to survive a position/circumstance that you didn't ask to be put in, nor one that you'd willingly put yourself into.
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« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2014, 03:10:45 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean by cute. Yes. I was told that that's Origen who believed in the preexistence of a soul. It doesn't entirely refute the question of how, though, nor does it stop the mind from wondering that.

Wonder away. I have nothing against imagination, as long as we're clear that that's all it is.

Actually I think there are some interesting questions to be investigated here about autonomy, omniscience, and free will (including the modern error of thinking that God doesn't violate our free will). Unfortunately people don't seem to have much interest in the topic... or don't realise there is one. Perhaps it has to do with the perceived motivations and inclinations of the person starting the conversations, which I understand often shapes a conversation.
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« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2014, 04:24:05 PM »

I cannot comment very much on what happened to your family but it sounds extremely difficult and taxing to deal with, and I'm sorry that you've had to go through it. I will merely point out that you said you cried and complained, and it seems to me as though you wished things were different during the time. That is something that God could've done, but chose for whatever reason not to. To me, at least, being thankful for having food, utilities, and a home doesn't sound like being thankful for abundance, or anything much above that bare minimum to survive a position/circumstance that you didn't ask to be put in, nor one that you'd willingly put yourself into.

God never promised us abundance. He promised us a hard road punctuated with sorrows, and He promised not to abandon us if we chose to walk that road. We live in a broken world, where suffering happens, and worse, we can't see its reason or its point. I never said trusting God in adversity came easy. Well, in theory it does, but in the middle of adversity it's kinda hard to theorise. All we can do is hold on to the One who won't budge, and do our best to learn our lessons.

What I learned from all this ordeal (which, mind you, is far from over, I just have a timetable to its end now) is that there is so much that I thought I needed and ended up doing just fine without anyway. There was no abundance in any sense of the word, but we were healthy (BIG deal) and one step up from homeless, while others in the same straits as us didn't manage to avoid. Saying that this is not something to be thankful for is like saying that you shouldn't say thanks to Grandpa when he hands you a £5 rather than a £20. It's still £5 you didn't have before.
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« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2014, 05:22:22 PM »

I cannot comment very much on what happened to your family but it sounds extremely difficult and taxing to deal with, and I'm sorry that you've had to go through it. I will merely point out that you said you cried and complained, and it seems to me as though you wished things were different during the time. That is something that God could've done, but chose for whatever reason not to. To me, at least, being thankful for having food, utilities, and a home doesn't sound like being thankful for abundance, or anything much above that bare minimum to survive a position/circumstance that you didn't ask to be put in, nor one that you'd willingly put yourself into.

God never promised us abundance. He promised us a hard road punctuated with sorrows, and He promised not to abandon us if we chose to walk that road. We live in a broken world, where suffering happens, and worse, we can't see its reason or its point. I never said trusting God in adversity came easy. Well, in theory it does, but in the middle of adversity it's kinda hard to theorise. All we can do is hold on to the One who won't budge, and do our best to learn our lessons.

What I learned from all this ordeal (which, mind you, is far from over, I just have a timetable to its end now) is that there is so much that I thought I needed and ended up doing just fine without anyway. There was no abundance in any sense of the word, but we were healthy (BIG deal) and one step up from homeless, while others in the same straits as us didn't manage to avoid. Saying that this is not something to be thankful for is like saying that you shouldn't say thanks to Grandpa when he hands you a £5 rather than a £20. It's still £5 you didn't have before.

I was hoping you might address some of the other comments I'd made prior to that quote. Regardless, it would appear we've come full circle.

God can choose to give us things we desire, whether or not we truly need them (according to our own reckoning) but doesn't. Instead we're put into a world without the choice to decide for ourselves whether we wish to be in it or not, given a set of circumstances, and are told to have faith and believe in God and His promises, but at the same time are expected (I'm not sure what the right word is here) to be thankful for the just-above-minimum that we have, and thankful that it's not worse than it could be, despite God being able to make it that, and despite the difficulty, problems, and everything else that comes with it. That's where the frustration in the OP comes from as I see it, because (now I'm moving towards conjecture) if God was taking a more active role in things instead of sitting back and letting things be as they are, maybe things could be better. Come to think of it I say maybe but it could be better. The world is definitely broken - this much is pretty obvious. 

Yes, God does promise us a hard road punctuated with sorrows, and not to abandon us, but God does not always appear to be present in our lives. Sometimes this time is said to be spiritually beneficial and there are several explanations that put things in somewhat less of a harsh light but don't IMO always strike at the meat of the matter, as has been shown in this thread. We're still put into the position, despite everything else, and aren't meant to have (ideally) any will, desire, or hope of our own but everything is supposed to be of God. It all goes back to God, but without a comment about our own wills, hopes, or most of anything else of ours except obedience, and its role. For my part it makes me wonder what exactly the purpose of having any of these things is since they could conceivably have been removed without much difficulty. You make the point of how we have to hold on, and I agree that it's important to do so, but as I've been saying there are things that can cause someone to lose their grip on God, on the Church, on the commandments. On anything.

You yourself have said it though - not abundance, but just-above-minimum. I'm not saying one should be thankful for the blessings we do have. What I'm saying is that even in the midst of these troubles, to say you'd not wish for something better isn't something that very many, if any people would do if put in the same shoes, because we don't want pain. That's a human reaction and in its place can have great benefit. Indeed, it could be likened to danger in that it removes the drive to improve, and that is one thing that has driven the growth of society and civilization. One ought to be thankful for the £5 as it's £5 you didn't have before, yes. That said, I refer to the parable of the talents.

You'd said that others ended up being homeless (fwiw that's a great terror of mine): I'd like to detach from your example for a few moments and just freeflow. If I follow that line of thought with the same "be thankful because" reasoning, I can think, well, there are people that are homeless, but they might have food. Those people that don't have food maybe be better off because they have their family. Those people without their family may be better off because they have their health (somehow). Those without their health are somehow better off because they still have their eyes which another person might not have due to an accident and so on and so on. Of course, keep going and what's the end result? Nobody's happy. Nobody is doing very well, and nobody is moving up the hierarchy of needs thanks to something severely wrong. The real world isn't as dark as I paint it but of course the example still stands.

I hope this makes sense.
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« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2014, 05:44:40 PM »

Arachne as usual offers a wonderful defense of never taking Christianity seriously again.

Mocking another for self entitlement is rich considering the source. I guess typing lotsa erotic words to be counted by computer is the school of hard knocks.
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« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2014, 05:52:31 PM »

Arachne as usual offers a wonderful defense of never taking Christianity seriously again.

Mocking another for self entitlement is rich considering the source. I guess typing lotsa erotic words to be counted by computer is the school of hard knocks.

Orthonorm as usual is never thankful for anything. He deserves everything he gets, yes sir he does.
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« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2014, 05:56:46 PM »

I have trouble accepting that I owe God anything and/or that I should be thankful toward God. For starters, I don't really see what He ever did for me. He died for me? Well, to be honest, I never asked to exist. He is the one who created me against my will, and maybe if He didn't mess up in the first place, He wouldn't have had to die.

When I recite our prayers and see the constant "I owe you so much/I'm so thankful" type phrases and attitudes, I feel like I'm lying to myself and to God because I don't honestly feel thankful toward Him or feel like I owe Him anything. As far as I'm concerned, He just seems like an absent, dead-beat father who thinks that his children owe him something simply because he orgasmed them into existence.

I feel like when we constantly thank God for everything, we're giving Him undeserved credit because most everything we have, we have it because we worked for it. I don't think we get things because of God; I think we get them in spite of God. Plus, we never asked to exist. He's the one who thrust us all into existence because of His own personal needs and/or desires. Aren't we already doing Him favor enough by existing even though we never asked to? Shouldn't He owe us something for making us be His laboratory rats?

And this whole thing begs another question; how could we even know if something is a gift from Gos when it could easily just have been a coincidence or been because we personally worked for it? When God is as silent, absent, and detached as He is, wouldn't it be wiser to assume that He wasn't behind the good things that we have?

The word "thanksgiving" in Greek is also our word for Eucharist.

Every time we partake of the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, we should be partaking with faith, love, and thanksgiving that so great a Gift has been freely bestowed on us, sinners that we are.


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« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2014, 05:59:47 PM »

Arachne as usual offers a wonderful defense of never taking Christianity seriously again.

Mocking another for self entitlement is rich considering the source. I guess typing lotsa erotic words to be counted by computer is the school of hard knocks.

Orthonorm as usual is never thankful for anything. He deserves everything he gets, yes sir he does.

Why thank you! As too many around me feel I've been unduly given too much in grand abundance.
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« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2014, 06:06:39 PM »

One learns to thank God by reading the Psalms and by getting out of the house and viewing His wonderful creation: the stars, the clouds, the rain and the flowers, the spray of ocean water, the cooling fog after a scorching hot day in the SF Bay.
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« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2014, 06:28:19 PM »

God can choose to give us things we desire, whether or not we truly need them (according to our own reckoning) but doesn't. Instead we're put into a world without the choice to decide for ourselves whether we wish to be in it or not, given a set of circumstances, and are told to have faith and believe in God and His promises, but at the same time are expected (I'm not sure what the right word is here) to be thankful for the just-above-minimum that we have, and thankful that it's not worse than it could be, despite God being able to make it that, and despite the difficulty, problems, and everything else that comes with it. That's where the frustration in the OP comes from as I see it, because (now I'm moving towards conjecture) if God was taking a more active role in things instead of sitting back and letting things be as they are, maybe things could be better. Come to think of it I say maybe but it could be better. The world is definitely broken - this much is pretty obvious.

Yes, God does promise us a hard road punctuated with sorrows, and not to abandon us, but God does not always appear to be present in our lives. Sometimes this time is said to be spiritually beneficial and there are several explanations that put things in somewhat less of a harsh light but don't IMO always strike at the meat of the matter, as has been shown in this thread. We're still put into the position, despite everything else, and aren't meant to have (ideally) any will, desire, or hope of our own but everything is supposed to be of God. It all goes back to God, but without a comment about our own wills, hopes, or most of anything else of ours except obedience, and its role. For my part it makes me wonder what exactly the purpose of having any of these things is since they could conceivably have been removed without much difficulty. You make the point of how we have to hold on, and I agree that it's important to do so, but as I've been saying there are things that can cause someone to lose their grip on God, on the Church, on the commandments. On anything.

The part of us that says 'I want' is never satisfied. Even if we get our heart's desire today, tomorrow we will wake up wanting something more (or worse, realising that what we got was not what we wanted anyway).

Some people seem to need God to behave like on Sinfest to meet their expectations on activity. Good for them, maybe, but I can't help thinking that just watching over 7 billion people so we don't self-destruct is a pretty full-time job.

You yourself have said it though - not abundance, but just-above-minimum. I'm not saying one should be thankful for the blessings we do have. What I'm saying is that even in the midst of these troubles, to say you'd not wish for something better isn't something that very many, if any people would do if put in the same shoes, because we don't want pain. That's a human reaction and in its place can have great benefit. Indeed, it could be likened to danger in that it removes the drive to improve, and that is one thing that has driven the growth of society and civilization. One ought to be thankful for the £5 as it's £5 you didn't have before, yes. That said, I refer to the parable of the talents.

Who said not to wish and try for something better? Still, one has to keep in mind that God works in his own timing, not in ours. The true danger is giving up because you're not getting just what you want just when you want it. What we take as God saying 'No' is, as often as not, 'Later'. (And then we go and blow everything whining like toddlers, 'Is it later yet?')

You'd said that others ended up being homeless (fwiw that's a great terror of mine): I'd like to detach from your example for a few moments and just freeflow. If I follow that line of thought with the same "be thankful because" reasoning, I can think, well, there are people that are homeless, but they might have food. Those people that don't have food maybe be better off because they have their family. Those people without their family may be better off because they have their health (somehow). Those without their health are somehow better off because they still have their eyes which another person might not have due to an accident and so on and so on. Of course, keep going and what's the end result? Nobody's happy. Nobody is doing very well, and nobody is moving up the hierarchy of needs thanks to something severely wrong. The real world isn't as dark as I paint it but of course the example still stands.

Moving up the hierarchy of needs is not an inalienable right. It's a privilege to be thankful for.
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« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2014, 07:29:56 PM »

By having a thankful spirit & attitude ... Or the act of thanksgiving in Liturgical tradition plus the singing of Psalms.
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« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2014, 07:30:54 PM »

By having a thankful spirit & attitude ... Or the act of thanksgiving in Liturgical tradition plus the singing of Psalms.

Yes, the psalms are known for prayers of thanksgiving.
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2014, 07:44:56 PM »

I'm not sure what you mean by cute. Yes. I was told that that's Origen who believed in the preexistence of a soul. It doesn't entirely refute the question of how, though, nor does it stop the mind from wondering that.

Wonder away. I have nothing against imagination, as long as we're clear that that's all it is.

Actually I think there are some interesting questions to be investigated here about autonomy, omniscience, and free will (including the modern error of thinking that God doesn't violate our free will). Unfortunately people don't seem to have much interest in the topic... or don't realise there is one. Perhaps it has to do with the perceived motivations and inclinations of the person starting the conversations, which I understand often shapes a conversation.

Its not that.

Its when people try to put God in a box or explain away with logical arguments.
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« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2014, 07:50:15 PM »

I have trouble accepting that I owe God anything and/or that I should be thankful toward God. For starters, I don't really see what He ever did for me. He died for me? Well, to be honest, I never asked to exist. He is the one who created me against my will, and maybe if He didn't mess up in the first place, He wouldn't have had to die.

When I recite our prayers and see the constant "I owe you so much/I'm so thankful" type phrases and attitudes, I feel like I'm lying to myself and to God because I don't honestly feel thankful toward Him or feel like I owe Him anything. As far as I'm concerned, He just seems like an absent, dead-beat father who thinks that his children owe him something simply because he orgasmed them into existence.

I feel like when we constantly thank God for everything, we're giving Him undeserved credit because most everything we have, we have it because we worked for it. I don't think we get things because of God; I think we get them in spite of God. Plus, we never asked to exist. He's the one who thrust us all into existence because of His own personal needs and/or desires. Aren't we already doing Him favor enough by existing even though we never asked to? Shouldn't He owe us something for making us be His laboratory rats?

And this whole thing begs another question; how could we even know if something is a gift from Gos when it could easily just have been a coincidence or been because we personally worked for it? When God is as silent, absent, and detached as He is, wouldn't it be wiser to assume that He wasn't behind the good things that we have?

See a psychologist.

Reconcile with your mother.

Have faith and attend the services every Sunday.  

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« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2014, 09:32:40 PM »

God can choose to give us things we desire, whether or not we truly need them (according to our own reckoning) but doesn't. Instead we're put into a world without the choice to decide for ourselves whether we wish to be in it or not, given a set of circumstances, and are told to have faith and believe in God and His promises, but at the same time are expected (I'm not sure what the right word is here) to be thankful for the just-above-minimum that we have, and thankful that it's not worse than it could be, despite God being able to make it that, and despite the difficulty, problems, and everything else that comes with it. That's where the frustration in the OP comes from as I see it, because (now I'm moving towards conjecture) if God was taking a more active role in things instead of sitting back and letting things be as they are, maybe things could be better. Come to think of it I say maybe but it could be better. The world is definitely broken - this much is pretty obvious.

Yes, God does promise us a hard road punctuated with sorrows, and not to abandon us, but God does not always appear to be present in our lives. Sometimes this time is said to be spiritually beneficial and there are several explanations that put things in somewhat less of a harsh light but don't IMO always strike at the meat of the matter, as has been shown in this thread. We're still put into the position, despite everything else, and aren't meant to have (ideally) any will, desire, or hope of our own but everything is supposed to be of God. It all goes back to God, but without a comment about our own wills, hopes, or most of anything else of ours except obedience, and its role. For my part it makes me wonder what exactly the purpose of having any of these things is since they could conceivably have been removed without much difficulty. You make the point of how we have to hold on, and I agree that it's important to do so, but as I've been saying there are things that can cause someone to lose their grip on God, on the Church, on the commandments. On anything.

The part of us that says 'I want' is never satisfied. Even if we get our heart's desire today, tomorrow we will wake up wanting something more (or worse, realising that what we got was not what we wanted anyway).

Some people seem to need God to behave like on Sinfest to meet their expectations on activity. Good for them, maybe, but I can't help thinking that just watching over 7 billion people so we don't self-destruct is a pretty full-time job.

You yourself have said it though - not abundance, but just-above-minimum. I'm not saying one should be thankful for the blessings we do have. What I'm saying is that even in the midst of these troubles, to say you'd not wish for something better isn't something that very many, if any people would do if put in the same shoes, because we don't want pain. That's a human reaction and in its place can have great benefit. Indeed, it could be likened to danger in that it removes the drive to improve, and that is one thing that has driven the growth of society and civilization. One ought to be thankful for the £5 as it's £5 you didn't have before, yes. That said, I refer to the parable of the talents.

Who said not to wish and try for something better? Still, one has to keep in mind that God works in his own timing, not in ours. The true danger is giving up because you're not getting just what you want just when you want it. What we take as God saying 'No' is, as often as not, 'Later'. (And then we go and blow everything whining like toddlers, 'Is it later yet?')

You'd said that others ended up being homeless (fwiw that's a great terror of mine): I'd like to detach from your example for a few moments and just freeflow. If I follow that line of thought with the same "be thankful because" reasoning, I can think, well, there are people that are homeless, but they might have food. Those people that don't have food maybe be better off because they have their family. Those people without their family may be better off because they have their health (somehow). Those without their health are somehow better off because they still have their eyes which another person might not have due to an accident and so on and so on. Of course, keep going and what's the end result? Nobody's happy. Nobody is doing very well, and nobody is moving up the hierarchy of needs thanks to something severely wrong. The real world isn't as dark as I paint it but of course the example still stands.

Moving up the hierarchy of needs is not an inalienable right. It's a privilege to be thankful for.

I agree that the part that says "I want" is never satisfied, but again, I'm not talking about the gummy bear. I'm talking about the initial set of circumstances that one is given: those things that cannot be changed or worked around by anyone but God. Failing that, I'm talking about serious issues. That goes back to the crux of the matter where things are given to us, but in such a manner as to make them the bare minimum of what is needed, rather than anything else above that.

As far as God behaving like on Sinfest, yes you do have a point and I agree, but of those 7 billion people, none was given the choice to live or not, and God for whatever reason has decided that they should be alive, at least for some time. It's fair to say that it's a full time job, but not one that He would've not known about before undertaking it (infinite wisdom, knowing all things). I'm not very sure what you mean by this. For my own part, I won't lie, I do hope for some activity: some reciprocity, and I hope for more than just a pat on the head saying "its okay".

I admit I'm slightly confused. You've agreed that growing and trying for better is something that one should do, and yes God works in His own time, but again you haven't addressed the finer points: dealing with pain, dealing with the lack and adversity, why we have a will and desire etc, etc. This is something everybody deals with. Again, unlike the case of the diabetic eating cream cake, we don't get to know what time is best, or when, or how. This adds to the problem and makes it more likely (ignoring for a second our fallen nature) that we'll go for the route of the cream cake. Just like other sins, we can know something is bad for us, but still end up doing it anyways, often despite our wanting not to do so. 

At the higher levels, yes, it is. At the lower levels, though, I disagree. It's something that is required to live, and function properly - not as a human being, even, but as a living organism. Here I refer to Maslow's heirarchy of needs.
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« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2014, 06:11:21 AM »

As far as God behaving like on Sinfest, yes you do have a point and I agree, but of those 7 billion people, none was given the choice to live or not, and God for whatever reason has decided that they should be alive, at least for some time. It's fair to say that it's a full time job, but not one that He would've not known about before undertaking it (infinite wisdom, knowing all things). I'm not very sure what you mean by this. For my own part, I won't lie, I do hope for some activity: some reciprocity, and I hope for more than just a pat on the head saying "its okay".

Fair enough. Everyone's experiences with God's response to their petitions are different. I've had reciprocity, and it has invariably been in 'still small voice' mode, so I don't expect big light shows. (Although it's hard not to think, when I see only a beam of sunlight through an otherwise completely overcast sky, that it's the Boss giving someone a talking-to. Grin)

I can't tell you why the shock of some serious adversity makes some people's faith crumble while that of others grows stronger. I don't know. I'm pretty sure, though, that the secular life coaches and wellness gurus who encourage their students to find one (or three, or five, depending) thing to be thankful for on every single ordinary day, are on to something. Too many little mundane things that we take for granted are completely out of our control. I think it's only fair to give thanks to the one who turns them to our advantage, but it does take awareness and practice.
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scamandrius
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« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2014, 09:09:10 AM »

I have trouble accepting that I owe God anything and/or that I should be thankful toward God. For starters, I don't really see what He ever did for me. He died for me? Well, to be honest, I never asked to exist. He is the one who created me against my will, and maybe if He didn't mess up in the first place, He wouldn't have had to die.

When I recite our prayers and see the constant "I owe you so much/I'm so thankful" type phrases and attitudes, I feel like I'm lying to myself and to God because I don't honestly feel thankful toward Him or feel like I owe Him anything. As far as I'm concerned, He just seems like an absent, dead-beat father who thinks that his children owe him something simply because he orgasmed them into existence.

I feel like when we constantly thank God for everything, we're giving Him undeserved credit because most everything we have, we have it because we worked for it. I don't think we get things because of God; I think we get them in spite of God. Plus, we never asked to exist. He's the one who thrust us all into existence because of His own personal needs and/or desires. Aren't we already doing Him favor enough by existing even though we never asked to? Shouldn't He owe us something for making us be His laboratory rats?

And this whole thing begs another question; how could we even know if something is a gift from Gos when it could easily just have been a coincidence or been because we personally worked for it? When God is as silent, absent, and detached as He is, wouldn't it be wiser to assume that He wasn't behind the good things that we have?

Start by being thankful to others and doing so cheerfully and joyfully.  Maybe then a sense of gratitude towards God will start to develop.
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Those who do not read  history are doomed to get their facts from Hollywood--Anonymous

What earthly joy remains untouched by grief?--St. John Damascene
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