God is never meant to be our enemy. Even a quick study of restored Gospel truth reveals our Heavenly Father is truly committed to the work that is glorifying his children. So invested in our success is God that he “gave his only Begotten Son” so we may have everlasting life.
However, Satan would have us believe God is anything but on our side. Despite our best efforts, we can accidentally slip into this twisted thinking. Here are three ways we accidentally make God our enemy in our own minds and what we can do about it.
One. We Blame God For Everything.
It is a tale as old as time; when bad things happen, our first instinct is often to raise our fist to the sky and cry out in anger to God. While there are certainly times God’s hand is clearly leading us through the refiner’s fire, not every trial is a direct result of God’s will.
Consider this quote by President Boyd K. Packer: “Do not suppose that God willfully causes that, which for His own purposes, he permits.”
The doctrine of the Plan of Salvation reveals we chose to live in a fallen world as part of our mortal probation. This means we are subject to all manner of problems, including illnesses, weaknesses, temptations, evils, and the agency of those around us. God permits these things to exist and to act because he sees our agency and this time of testing as sacred and essential to our eternal growth.
If you feel like you’re placing the blame on God for all the misfortunes of life, here are some questions that may be useful:
- What do I still have faith in?
- When have I faced something hard and why did I need to go through it?
- What can I learn from this situation?
- What am I grateful for?
No matter what is going on in your life, we can do our best to hold onto the hand of the Savior as we walk through the fire.
Two. We Demand Our Own Limited Dreams.
Perhaps you’ve seen this image before. The little girl loves her small toy and Christ is asking her to give it up. What the girl doesn’t know is that something better is waiting for her. We often miss some of the greatest blessings in life because we spend much of our time pleading with God for the things we want so desperately, not fully realizing God may have something much grander waiting in the wings.
In the Bible Dictionary, prayer is described as an act that doesn’t change the will of God, but “to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that we must ask for in order to obtain.”
When we submit our will to God’s, we do sacrifice those things which feel most important to us. This can feel impossible and if we don’t understand the purpose we can become angry and bitter at God. He becomes the being who is asking for all our happiness. However, God has promised to give us a new heart and a new, eternal life if we consecrate ourselves. C.S. Lewis once imagined what Christ would say to us in the face of such a choice.
“Give me all of you. I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want you. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to kill it! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out. Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”
Three. We Forget God’s Grace.
In the Church, we recognize the power of acting in faith. Scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, fulfilling callings, service, tithing…the list goes on and on of things we can do to purify our hearts and obey Christ’s command to follow in his footsteps. However, when someone feels overwhelmed, we can feel like we have failed completely if we don’t check off every box on the list. We make assumptions about what God will or won’t do for us, completely forgoing God’s grace as we try to carry the burden of our salvation all on our own.
When we think like this, we can only fall. We can’t move forward without Christ and we will continually struggle to live up the huge expectations we give ourselves. The works we do are important, but it is truly the grace of Christ that makes all the difference. We cannot earn our way into heaven; we can only work with Christ to change our hearts so that we feel comfortable there.
Focus on what you can do today. David A. Bednar once said, “If today you are a little bit better than you were yesterday, then that’s enough. And, if tomorrow you are a little bit better than you were today, then that’s enough.”