The case of the cash-stuffed envelope!…

I sat in church one day while people gave “testimonials” of all the great and wonderful things God had done for them lately. The first thing that we could ask ourselves is why. Why is it so important that churches have frequent sessions where people stand and tell the rest of the congregation, the miracles that God has performed in their lives. Is it just for the spirit of giving thanks and appreciation in unity? Perhaps. Perhaps it is also a great religious marketing ploy.

Just like the loud sirens and bright flashing lights that go off in a casino when someone hits the jackpot, hearing how someone else has won favor with the Lord reinforces that we too can be so favored. Our day TOO will come. Maybe it won’t be next week, or next month, or even next year, but someday, somewhere, somehow, God WILL bless our lives with miracles. How do we know that? Because it happened to Mr Thomas who gave his testimonial! Heck, nobody even likes Mr Thomas like they do us- So God probably doesn’t like him as much either. If God blessed the unlikeable Mr Thomas with a new job, or a new wife, or a pay raise, we just KNOW our blessings are right around the corner!

I sat there and listened to a woman tearfully proclaim how she was low on cash, and one day she opened her dresser drawer and found and envelope with thirty-five dollars in it. She KNEW it was the work of Jesus because how else would it get there? Plus, the Bible tells us – in Philippians 4:19“But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This is an example of religious faith at work. When something good happens to us that we can’t explain, well the only explanation is that God or Jesus performed a miracle in our lives. The payment for this miracle was obedience, praise, worship, loving God/Jesus – oh, and paying the tithes and offerings.

Now I wasn’t there, watching this woman’s dresser drawer since they moved it into her house. Maybe God or Jesus did put the envelope with cash in it. The first question that comes to mind, is if the woman is low on cash, why only thirty-five dollars? why not a money order for thirty-five thousand? Another question is why God would give her cash when she needs it, but allow other people to languish in poverty or die of starvation, world-wide. Why didn’t God give envelopes of cash to the women who are homeless – maybe even with children and babies- due to domestic violence? Why doesn’t he give envelopes of cash to the run-away teenagers, so they don’t end up prey to pimps and other predators, out of desperation for food, clothing and shelter.

Maybe God DOES play dice with the universe and randomly bestows his blessings and miracles throughout the world: today it’s the unlikeable Mr Thomas, tomorrow it’s the woman who got the envelope, and next week it’s the fourteen-year old runaway girl (before she ends up turning tricks on a street-corner for her pimp, or arrested for shoplifting food from a supermarket). Why a God who is omnipresent – everywhere at all times – would only be able to bestow blessings sporadically throughout time and space, escapes me, but oh well….

Maybe the bestowing of blessings and performance of miracles is delegated to guardian angels, and some angels are more simply adept at performing these miracles than others… and there are only so many angels to go around! That would explain why one person gets an envelope of money, while another person gets to starve, get evicted, or be unable to pay for pain medication…and end up hooked on street opioids.

Then again, maybe there are no miracles, bestowed blessings, or answered prayers. Maybe the real test of spiritual faith isn’t knowing that some religion-based God will grant all our needs, but knowing that he won’t! Maybe -as we mature spiritually- we come to the realization that no-one other than humanity will meet the needs of humanity. Santa Claus didn’t stuff our stockings depending on whether or not we are naughty or nice: our parents did it out of love, REAL love, the kind of love that gives however, whenever, and wherever it can give – and unconditionally so.

So we hear that our grandmother is low on cash, and we leave an envelope of money in her drawer, as an expression of our love and caring. Isn’t a world where human beings help human beings in need, more spiritually empowered than a world where Gods and or angels roll their dice – or hatch their special “plans” – and do humanity’s work for us?

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