Often religious people make blanket statements that may seem strange to those unfamiliar with religion. A common example is when God is given credit for human accomplishments. The Christian belief in giving thanks and glory to God is seen often in popular culture; as sports figures, musicians, actors, etc. often thank God publicly. On a reality TV program I once saw a religious young woman give God credit for her success in an endeavor. Afterwards they showed a team mate commenting that she accomplished the task under her own power and that she wasn’t giving herself proper credit when she praised God. In essence he said, ‘It’s a shame that she sees it as God’s accomplishment because she’s the one who physically accomplished it, she denies her self worth and abilities when she attributes it all to God.’ (According to my recollection, it’s been years since I saw it.) I can see both sides of this argument.
An article about Elder David Bednar by Elder Henry B. Eyring that I read recently gives some specific insights into how God helps people accomplish difficult things. Elder Eyring quotes Michael, Elder Bednar’s son:
“It seems that faith has driven out fear in my dad. He is always optimistic. No matter what goes wrong, he always says, ‘Things will work out.’ When it was hard for me during my mission, he told me to work hard and success would come. And he told me when the success came to remember that God gave it and that I did not earn it.”
This quote illustrates how faith drives out fear. When I have faith and a belief in God my life is impacted positively by hope. Especially because I believe in a God that is omnipotent and loving towards us, his children. ‘Things will work out’ because I believe that even difficult things can result in good. It creates a dedication that is inspired and optimistic. Elder Bednar later says, “Because we know who is in charge and that we are not alone… I am not scared.” When I am truly living what I believe and feel close to God I’m not scared either.
The last part of the quote points out a facet of giving glory to God, “..when the success came to remember that God gave it and that I did not earn it.” Believing in a God that is creator of all, I attribute all that I physically have as given to me by God. I was born helpless and unable to work. Only because God gave me life within the context of a family was I able to grow to the point that I can care for myself and others. God has placed me where I am through birth and blessings. I can work hard and do good, but without his instruction on what is worth working for and how best to accomplish it, the work would result in little or nothing.
In the article, another son was quoted, describing Elder Bednar:
“’Since I was little, Dad taught me to set goals and exercise faith.’ Jeff also says: ‘I want people to know that he is an ordinary man who can do extraordinary things because of the strength of the Lord.'”
Setting goals and exercising the type of faith I mentioned earlier are keys to moving forward. People who believe in religion usually also believe that our lives have purpose. Usually that purpose includes improvement of the individual. In church I have been taught how to improve my life through setting goals, having standards and working hard to achieve. Without a belief in God and the ability for humans to improve, I would flail miserably in life, not understanding my potential and struggling without direction.
“Elder Bednar remembers: ‘During my training before my mission, we went to the solemn assembly room in the Salt Lake Temple. President Harold B. Lee was there to answer questions from about 300 missionaries. He stood there in his white suit, holding his white scriptures. He answered every question from the scriptures, or he said, ‘I don’t know.’ I sat there and thought that I would never be able to know the scriptures the way he did, but my objective became to use the scriptures in my teaching the way that I saw President Harold B. Lee do it. That desire is the genesis of all my scripture study.'”
Scripture study is something that is important to Christians. Some would say that it’s brainwashing on a daily basis to study scriptures every day. I would respond that the best way to keep myself focused on my goals is to have a daily reminder of what I want to accomplish and why. Prayer has a similar effect on my life.
Another benefit of scripture study and prayer is in keeping people humble. If on a daily basis I recognize that I need instruction and help, I am recognizing my own lack, my need to depend on something greater than myself. In work situations I see that people who are humble are more willing to listen to other’s ideas, they are not as easily threatened or offended, and are willing to do whatever is asked of them. These are qualities of a great employee and/or leader who accomplishes great things by working well with people.
These are just a few reasons that religious persons may give thanks and glory to God. I’m sure if you asked each person individually why they thank God they would have very specific and personal examples to share. God is my constant counselor so it is hard to divide those things in my life that have happened because of my own efforts and which have come about because of God. He is a part of all that I do, it really is indivisible. Except when I really mess up, I’ll claim that for myself!