First of all, let me state clearly: I do not speak or think for God. I do not represent Him in any official capacity or calling. I’ve taken upon myself the covenant to remember Him, and to do my best to follow His commandments; but the evidence that I fail at this clearly shows that I yet lack the capacity to feel, understand, and love as completely and wholly as does God. In fact, Isaiah – one of the greatest and most spiritually powerful prophets to have lived and written – reported that God told him, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are … my thoughts [higher] than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). So if Isaiah was below God in intellect, I clearly am also sub-omniscience.
Having said that, I will attempt in this post to better understand what God thinks. Ready? here I go…
I suppose this line of thinking started when my car’s check engine light came on. I was frustrated by my car not working as I desired it to. The natural laws of physics were that my car had experienced typical wear-and-tear, and needed a few parts replaced and the engine needed to be tuned up. Naturally, I wanted to feel sorry for myself, because one of the two cars that I owned was giving me trouble and going to cost me some time and extra money to resolve the problems.
About the same time that I was experiencing this trial, the largest typhoon on record struck the Philippine Island of Leyte, and directly hit the cities of Tacloban and Palo.
These two cities have special significance for me. I lived in these two cities for two weeks, on an assignment from my work. I provided training for a team of employees. Before and after the personal visit I made, I contacted the people working there by phone, and continued to work with them from time-to-time to provide training.
Those people had very little, and after the Typhoon most had nothing at all.
My family slept well, our stomachs full, in a heated home.
Their families – the survivors at least – struggled to obtain daily food that simply was not available, and slept under cover of makeshift shelters.
I was inconvenienced by a car repair, which I actually had enough money saved to be able to afford.
They were inconvenienced by their entire lives being uprooted.
That thought alone humbled me.
So it got me to thinking: The lifestyle I enjoy is full of comfort. I am surrounded by technology in buildings, transportation, communication, science, and health. I live in the most advanced age ever known. The things I enjoy today could scarcely have been imagined 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago, or 6000 years ago.
In fact, in the history of people living on this Earth, the great majority of them didn’t enjoy the comfort, peace, or technology that I do. In the course of history, most of them have struggled to eke out their existences.
Yet in my prayers to the God that oversaw it all, I’m complaining that my second car had a problem.
When I realized the simple comparison to my friends formerly of Tacloban, I couldn’t complain anymore.
When I realized the comparison to my ancestors throughout history, I certainly could not complain anymore.
Somehow, the circumstances of this Earth have been prepared to be optimal for teaching each person what God wants them to understand, and providing the mortal experience necessary.
Some people lived through war. Others experienced horrendous abuse and inhumanity. Some had weather and storms destroy their possessions. Some experienced crippling physical and/or mental health challenges.
In fact, everything that I currently enjoy, and that I have come to believe is “reality,” is actually a very fragile framework of society and possessions. All of it could, in an instant, be swept away by natural disaster or political upheaval.
When that perspective was opened to me, I couldn’t complain any longer.
Instead, I thanked my God for my particular challenge, and asked forgiveness for being so greedy and self-absorbed.
God has seen the previous millenniums come to pass. He has known exactly what, when, why, and how those people needed to experience. He will do no less for me.
I started to glimpse better the meaning of one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. … God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but … the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.” [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 257, 240–41.]