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The danger of using 'God's will' to answer pain and tragedies

Congregation with their pastors at a revival.
Congregation with their pastors at a revival. | Getty Images

The topic of God’s will has been thrown around the Church for many years. If we're honest, all the sermons on “what is God's will” or “How to know God's will” have been more confusing than comforting. Too many times we've used God's will as a way to answer the tragedies that surround us or to explain the pains and the hurts of circumstances.

We’ll say things like “We do not know God's will” or “His ways are higher than our own.” Yet, we refuse to label these circumstances as bad because we assume that would give room to question God’s perfect will. Meanwhile, Satan has for too long skewed the lines of good and evil. We have accepted a twisted narrative of lies that says, “It was God who chose to take him” or “God gives you suffering to teach you a lesson.”

Maybe you were like me when you heard of God's will. You strove for perfection. Every decision you made you questioned if you were in the will of God, as though you had the power to go in and out at any time. Your intentions were to follow God but you only found guilt, worry, and fear when you could not discern if this decision would put you on God’s right path.

When I was in my early teens I ran into my pantry and prayed a sincere prayer. I said, “God when I get to Heaven I want to hear you say ‘well done my good and faithful servant.’” Some might say there was nothing wrong with this prayer. However, my knowledge of God and understanding of His heart were still so small. What I had not realized then was that there was something greater beyond just getting it right in this life. I thought I needed to always strive for perfection and choose the right college and choose the right career and choose to be good. I worried if I was doing God’s will because I was taught it was a mystery, something you would never truly know or understand.

Thank God for his kindness and patience, because as I began to read the Bible for myself the Spirit of God began to reveal the truths of His Word.

Understand that I had grown up in church all my life, gone to Sunday school, and went to a private Christian school with Bible classes every day and chapel every week. I had read numerous Bible stories and heard countless sermons. Yet, I had not fully understood the truth of the Gospel. It was not until I understood what righteousness was and how Jesus lived the perfect life that I could not, and that by accepting His forgiveness I had received His righteousness in exchange (Romans 5:19).

And what does this have to do with the mysterious question of the will of God?  Everything, actually. This is the foundation of the Gospel, and we must understand our position in Christ to understand the will of the Father. The younger me believed I needed to earn my righteousness. Though I knew my sin was forgiven, I believed my actions didn't line up and I needed to make sure I lived this life for Christ through striving rather than rest. I wanted God’s approval, not knowing I already had it when I accepted his Son.

The Holy Spirit began to show me that in and through Christ I already had His approval and that this was His will!

This may surprise and offend some but the truth is God's will should not be a mystery. While we certainly won’t know everything that the future holds, we don't have to question God's will or His intentions. Because He tells us what his will has been all along in the new covenant. And guess what? It is good!

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1 that God has “predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”

It was God's will for His people to be His children and that is pleasing to Him. Therefore, we must see ourselves as his children because we have been accepted by the beloved. He continues in that same passage that God, "having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He has purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth — in Him.”

Jesus came to reveal the character of God to people who had yet to experience it. I began to see I was a child of God and I had His approval all along in Christ Jesus. He loved me just as He loved his Son. With this assurance, we can know that we are living from His will rather than striving towards it. We can live life with the knowledge that we are His children and can live according to someone who is unconditionally loved. We don’t have to question His intentions. And when lives are transformed from striving to being, therein lies the beautiful mystery of His will.

Philicia Tucker is a Senior Analyst on the social behavioral health team at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She has five years of experience in the public health field with a focus on supporting health improvement with island jurisdictions. She has two publications focused on the role of public health and the opioid crisis. However, she is passionate about creative writing through poetry, story-telling, and lyric. 

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