I have a social-network friend, whom I shall call Irene since I did not ask her permission to use her real name. She is a dedicated and proud nurse serving abroad. She tries to help her compatriots find jobs in the country of her employment by reproducing nursing job advertisements on Facebook pages. Quite rightly, she believes nursing is the best job in the world.
And she loves Jesus, and believes Jesus loves her. I am sure that her love for her God keeps her cope with the vicissitudes of life, agony of her patients and the poignant memory of her husband who died a few years ago. She quotes often from the Bible, the good and kind words of God. Tactlessly I once commented on one of her quotes by reproducing the cruel and merciless threats of God from the same book. Irene admitted she was hurt, and I discontinued my unsolicited comments on her page.
When our mutual friend Llewelyn fell sick on his last birthday, and there was no news of him for a few days, I checked with Irene if she had any news. She said she had none, and was praying for him. She suggested I pray for him too. Irene is Protestant, Llewelyn Catholic, but the denominations had not come in the way of their friendship, nor between them and me, though I have no claim to any religion or religious denomination.
To me, Llewelyn is a close friend from our younger days, over half a century ago. There was nothing I wanted to hear in those anxious days but that he was well. I said to Irene : I seldom pray, I believe God knows his job well, he would do what he thinks is the best , and does not go by recommendations.”
“I see,” answered Irene and tried to discontinue the chat. She sounded shocked that I did not believe in making a plea to God and to bring Him around to saving our dear friend.
Sensing the dismay and shock in Irene’s voice, I assured her: By Pascal’s wager, I will pray for LLew.
.Hopefully, Irene did not know what Pascal’s wager was.
That night, I actually prayed to a God whose name I did not know, that the jolly good friend of mine, nearly a year younger than myself, be restored to good health once again. Also that I hear from him soon.
Blaise Pascal, who proposed the wager that bears his name, was a great scientist, mathematician, inventor and Christian theologian. His wager is this:: If there is God, and if he hears your prayers, it’s good for you, your prayers will be answered. If there is no God, yet if you believe there is One, and you pray to Him, no loss anyhow.
Pascal, being a Christian theologian, set one condition to laying this wager : the God you pray to has to be Christian God, Not Muslim God, nor a pagan god.
Most people – Christian, Muslim or Hindu – might not have heard of Pascal’s wager, only of his mechanical calculators and hydraulic theories while at school or college. Yet we lay that wager often when we say this:
“ I do not know much about God. All I believe is that there is a great power over us.”
Ask any celebrity about God, I wager that that is what he or she would say. Partly because it is a good way to lay a wager on the Great Power. Also because naming a particular God or god might offend fans from other religions..
A week later Llewelyn returned to the social network, fully recovered, regretting his absence and once again ready to entertain all those hundreds who knew him and admired his jovial way of listing out soundly philosophical thoughts and delightful pun with sexual entendres in crisp, short lines.
That was exactly year ago, give or take two days. Llewelyn is going strong, full of wit and great thoughts, his health good enough for another couple of decades.
I don’t remember wagering on God since then.