In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
—1 Thessalonians 5:18
You know, growing up in a devout family, I have to admit that I never liked that phrase—God’s will. I mean, as a young girl I would think, what the heck does that mean? It wasn’t until I became a born-again Christian at the age of 23 that I finally understood that God made His will pretty darn clear in His Word, so I’ve come to appreciate that phrase a lot more. So much so that I even contrasted my two mindsets (before and after Christ in my life) in A Hope Undaunted, when Katie O’Connor (an agnostic like I used to be) bristles at the mention of “God’s will” in the following conversation with her sister Faith (whose opinion I now share :)).
Katie’s eyes spanned wide. “Trust? In a human being who wants to control my life?”
“No, Katie . . .” Faith said quietly. “In a God who wants to bless it.”
Katie folded her arms with a grunt, her body suddenly stiff. “So let me get this straight—I’m supposed to kowtow to whatever Father wants me to do, even something as awful as slaving for someone I despise? And then God wants me to forgive them both in the process?” Her acute annoyance escaped in a noisy blast of air. “Impossible.”
A hint of a smile curved at the edges of Faith’s lips. “Difficult, yes, but not impossible, trust me. Not with God’s help.”
“Oh, and I suppose if Collin forced you to do something that completely went against every shred of common sense and emotion in your body—and I’m not talking something as insignificant as grousing about your job—that you would just lie down and surrender without a fight.”
Faith sucked in a deep breath and released it slowly. “No, not without a fight, certainly . . . but the fight wouldn’t be between Collin and me, God willing.” She looked up, capturing Katie’s gaze with a silent plea. “It would be between my will and God’s. And if I’ve learned anything from painful experience, Katie, it’s that God’s will is the path to my ultimate happiness . . . and yours.”
Katie bristled at the awkwardness she always felt when her sister wandered into the realm of “God’s will.” She quickly covered with a forced smile. “Well, I have to hand it to you, Faith, you’re a better woman than me.”
“Not better . . .” Faith said with a quirk of a smile, “Let’s just say a little more desperate for peace.”
Ah, yes … “desperate for peace.” But you know what? I actually discovered through my recent month-long fast of Amazon/emails that like Katie in the clip above, I apparently wasn’t desperate enough for peace either. You see, I still found myself secretly wrinkling my nose whenever I heard or read the term “God’s will.” I suppose because during my childhood it seemed too pat of an answer from too many adults, bandied about when things would go wrong in people’s lives: it’s God’s will.
Really? It’s God’s will for my brother-in-law to have stage 4 cancer? It’s God’s will for my mother-in-law to still be in pain almost two months after she fractured her hip?
I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. My Bible says that “the thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy,” but that Jesus “came to give life with joy and abundance” — John 10:10.
And, yes, I know all about God’s “perfect will” versus His “permissive will.” To me that simply means from the moment sin entered the world when Adam and Eve chose their will over God’s, man took things out of God’s hands into his own, something we are all still adept at doing today. So, yes, because of sin and satan’s subsequent dominion over the world (sorry, I refuse to capitalize the devil’s name), God does allow tragedy and sickness to inflict His children, but it was never what He wanted for us. And you know what? It still isn’t.
Which is why God Himself pulled a “State Farm” by giving His children the following insurance policy when bad things happen:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose.
To them that love God. And how exactly do we “love” God? Well, John 14:15 says, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Pretty simple stuff if you ask me. Love = obey.
Mmm … an insurance policy where the premium is obedience. And the payoff? Peace, hope, and joy in the midst of life’s storms and after when He brings good from them as promised.
God’s will. Yep, until recently I kinda fought it. I wanted what I wanted more than what He wanted. I didn’t realize that His wants for me are far greater and far more satisfying than my own. Didn’t realize that by accepting His will I was not only “insuring” my own peace and contentment, but paving the way for God’s “perfect” will when He gives me the desires of my heart … and His.
So … according to today’s Scripture quote, the will of God is to give thanks “in everything.” Not “FOR everything,” mind you, because it’s difficult to thank God for cancer and pain and trouble in our lives, especially when those things do not come from the hand of God. But “IN everything give thanks.” That means in the face of trials and troubles we all encounter on a daily basis, we need to give thanks to a God we can trust to see us through whatever we face. A God we can trust to bring good for us no matter what the situation. And a God we can trust to hold us, our loved ones, and our dreams in the palm of His most capable hand.
So, you know what? My nose no longer wrinkles when I hear the phrase, “God’s will,” because like Faith says in the excerpt above, I’ve learned all too well—it’s the path to my ultimate happiness . . . and yours.
Hugs and Happy Weekend!