God acts through us and beyond us – and always for us
When we need to do something difficult, we may pray for help. Skeptics mock such praying: “What is its use? If you have an exam, is God going to answer the questions for you?”
Such skeptics misunderstand the nature of the human-divine relationship. Prayer is meant not to replace human endeavor, but to guide and complement it. When we pray, God can, of course, respond by changing the things that are outside our control. But he can also respond by empowering and guiding us. Thus, God acts both beyond us and through us.
Krishna’s multiple modes of action are demonstrated in the Mahabharata. During the climactic war, Arjuna fought tirelessly and fearlessly. Especially on the fourteenth day, when he had vowed to fell Jayadratha before sunset, he singlehandedly penetrated deep into the Kaurava army. He achieved such a stupendous feat not by his archery skill alone but primarily by Krishna’s empowerment. On that day, though Arjuna exercised his power fully, he still fell short of Jayadratha. Krishna compensated for the shortfall by using his mystic power to cover the sun, thereby lulling the Kauravas into complacency and giving Arjuna the precious moments necessary for accomplishing his mission. The Bhagavad-gita conveys that Arjuna was divinely empowered (11.33) and that his opulence manifested Krishna’s splendor (10.37).
Divine empowerment was critical for Arjuna’s success – this became evident when that empowerment was withdrawn after Krishna’s departure from the world. Earlier, the world’s foremost warriors couldn’t stop Arjuna; now, he couldn’t stop some petty thieves.
Through all the mysterious ways in which Krishna acts, he always acts for us. Being everyone’s well-wisher (05.29), he orchestrates things for our ultimate welfare. By meditating on his benevolence, we can stay fixed in our service prayerfully and determinedly, letting divine grace guide and complement our human endeavor.
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