God’s Will For Us
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Lately, I’ve been questioning the concept of God’s will. What does it really mean to do God’s will? What is His will for me and how do I know what it is? And even if I do think I know what it is, why should I do it? What if His will for me involves sacrifices that I don’t want to make, and opposition that I don’t want to face? How do I know that it is worth it?
Amidst all this internal questioning, I was struck by a particular line from the book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn. “God’s will “ it reads, “is generally for us to do more of whatever we are most grateful for or whatever gives us most life.” Wow, could it really be that simple? Then I came upon this passage from 1 Thessalonians, in which Paul defines God’s will for us as being joyful and thankful in all that we do. Reconciling these two claims, I’ve come to a new understanding of God’s will. Choosing to do God’s will is choosing to be joyful and grateful. Sometimes this is simply an act of willpower to be positive and thank God no matter what the circumstances, but it would also make sense that the more we do what we enjoy, the more we will be able (and the easier it will be) to genuinely rejoice and give thanks to God in prayer.
From this perspective, praying to know God’s will is praying to know what makes you most genuinely joyful and thankful to God. To me, and I think most (including Jesus!) would agree with me, this is praying to know love. My belief is that the more we learn how to give and receive as much love as we can, the more we learn about what makes us most joyful and grateful, the more we learn about God’s will for us.
This does not mean that all my questions about God’s will are resolved. But I draw strength from my belief that choosing it is to choose a life of greater joy, gratitude, and love. For such, I am told, is His will for us.
What do you think it means to do God’s will? And how do you think you can discover this in your life?
In 2008 I walked the Camino in France and Spain. After several days of walking, the soles of my feet were feeling very tender, and it was hard not to think, “Oh my goodness, will they stay like this all the way to Santiago?” However, at some point I had a realization. I could worry about how sore my feet were all day or I could look around me at all the beauty in the countryside I was walking through, and be thankful for it. So I ‘decided’ to be thankful. With that thankfulness came joy. Somehow my feet never hurt so much any more. That lesson of thankfulness is one I wish I could remember every day….