Surprised by God’s Will
We began a series this weekend called Decision. You can watch the message online if you missed it. We are looking at God’s will and how we make good, wise decisions that honor God.
There are a few verses in the Bible that just come right out and state what God’s will is. No guessing! We’ll look at one of those clear passages this Sunday. And another is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) – 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
This is so clear! Notice the repetition in these verses. “Always,” “continually,” in “all circumstances.” God’s will for us is to always rejoice, never stop praying, and be grateful no matter what. First, let’s ask this question. Why this “always and never stop” emphasis?
Because God knows our life is hard. It is hard for all of us. He knows that we face all kinds of challenges. He knows we are broken people who live in a broken world. And we can let the pain, struggle, disappointments, injustice and sadness overwhelm us. But that is not his will. He wants us to draw near to him, trust him, seek him and know that he is with us and for us. The thing we have to rejoice and be thankful about is his neverending love. He wants us to experience that he is greater than all of our challenges. And so we keep talking to him (praying) because he is our source of goodness, love and hope.
God’s will is that eventually we all get to this amazingly profound place – no matter what happens to us, how others treat us, no matter how bad things get, we are at peace because we know that when all else is gone or has failed, God is madly in love with us and will never forsake us. It is only then that we truly experience that he is all we need and that no one and nothing can take that away.
The next natural question is, “how?” How can we rejoice always? How can we pray continually? How can we give thanks no matter what? Each of these commands is a command to focus on God rather than the things going on in us and around us. God is not saying to live in denial. This isn’t about denying that there are hardships. But rather, that we keep the hardships in perspective. These verses are all about perspective!
Yes, there are lots of joy-robbers in our lives. But there is also much to rejoice over: the very loving relationship we have with God. Yes, there are things we are not happy about, but there is so much more to be thankful for. Yes, life is challenging, but we are not alone. We can be in God’s presence and talk to him all the time! He is for us. He is with us. He will not forsake us.
What is God’s will for us? Yes, the obvious answer is to rejoice, pray and be thankful. But it is deeper than that. God’s will for us is to experience his love and goodness all throughout the challenges and struggles of our lives. That’s God’s good will for us. May we be surprised by God’s will!