Sunday, July 25, 2010

Natural Consequences or Blessings?

Being the Preparedness Specialist in my ward has helped me ponder spiritual matters from a different perspective lately.   A major focus of my calling is on food storage, an obviously temporal matter.  When I received this calling, I was blessed that it would help increase my testimony of the Savior, which thing I had recently been praying for.  Seeing as how the Lord seemingly answered my prayer, I have sought to discover just how food storage could accomplish my spiritual goal.  It is a long journey, to be sure, but in the process, I have come to look at blessings from the Lord in a new light.

Imagine that you have done your duty and responded to the counsel of the Prophets by storing food when a disaster hits.  The natural consequence of your actions is that you will have food to eat and your life will be sustained or prolonged.  Those who did not listen will unfortunately find themselves unprepared and thus will not be able to survive.  These are simply natural and logical consequences.  If you have food to eat, you will live.  If you don't have food, you will die.

This is often compared to Noah's ark.  Only his family listened and were prepared for the massive flood that took place.  Those who did not hearken to the prophet and prepare for the disaster were lost.  Once again, preparation literally led to life and being unprepared led to death.

Noah's ark is often compared to our salvation.  The Lord gives commandments to us through our prophets and if we obey, we are saved; we receive life.  If we do not, we are lost.  Sometimes this can be seen as harsh and many question how a loving God could deliver such a cruel punishment.  Corianton, the son of Alma, was concerned about this very matter (Alma 42).  Yet Alma, in the previous chapter, has just finished explaining the doctrine of restoration, which could also be called "natural consequences."  Read it; it's a good one.

Then there are the multiple references to reaping what you sow, two of which are found in Gal. 6: 7-9 and D&C 6 :3-4, 33.

What is my point with all of this?  In all these examples it is clear to see that the results of our actions are natural consequences.  Just as storing food will result in life, keeping the commandments of God will naturally result in salvation (to put it briefly).  Or in other words, we will have the tools and the character that we need in order to be in the presence of a holy and perfect Being.

This can be carried out to explain all blessings since Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 tells us that any blessing we receive is because we have obeyed a particular law.  It makes perfect sense that if we obey the word of wisdom, we will be blessed with better health than had we not obeyed it.  God is bound when we do what He says simply because of the natural consequences resulting from our actions.  

There are certainly deeper points to ponder on this issue.  Why is it that the Pioneers seemed to suffer so much heartache and so many trials when they were being so faithful?  There is no easy answer, but the discussion could go into the fact that God is not bound in timing his blessings.  I also am aware that amidst all the suffering, the early Saints recognized many blessings in their lives in spite of (or maybe because of) their trials.  It has also been said that trials can be a form of blessings.  Another route we could go off on is the fact that things happen to us, good or bad, as a result of others actions and may have had nothing to do with our own actions.  Just some things to ponder.  

What do you think?  Are blessings merely natural consequences to our obedience?


  1. King Benjamin states that when you do what the Lord commands you, "he doth immediately bless you." So, I think timing is an issue in some instances (at least when we ask for a particular blessing and the Lord doesn't see fit to bestow it on us at the moment) and the Lord will bless us with something that he knows we will benefit the most we possibly can according to the law(s) we have obeyed.

    Faith doesn't seem to have a natural consequence, unless it's the desires of our hearts; in which case maybe because there is no defined law/consequence is the reason why it can be so trying when we don't get what we think we deserve.

  2. I have one suggested correction: "Only his family [& 2 of every animal] listened..." This is the way the Scripture Scouts tapes Marielle listens to portrays. I thought that was an interesting perspective.

    As to your point of Pioneer suffering, I think some of the confusion comes when we associate "trial" with "punishment" too strongly. You parenthetically suggest that blessings might have come because of those trials; I am certain of it. Mortality is not meant to be easy for the obedient.

    For your final question, I answer: yes, blessings can be natural consequences, but they are not limited to that. I can choose to reward, or bless, someone who I see doing something good, and because my agency is involved, it is no longer a "natural" consequence. For instance, when one of my teachers prepared the sacrament all by himself, I brought him Oreos the following Wednesday night. Natural consequence: good feeling from doing his duty. Additional blessing: Oreos. I think God has that same choice, to send us extra blessings beyond the natural consequences when we do something right.