Understanding God’s Will
Everything happens for a reason, is a common phrase in our culture. It’s often said after something tragic happens. On the surface it seems to be an attempt to make sense of an emotionally painful event such as a death or accident. On another level, however, it expresses a fatalistic attitude that frankly is depressing. There isn’t much hope in those words. When someone utters those words the typical response is to get a serious look on your face, nod your head a few times and say, “That’s right” while deep inside you know full well you have no idea what that reason is.
As Christians there’s a better way to understand the difficult events of life. We need to process everything as it relates to God. There is nothing that happens apart from God’s will.
Lest we fall into the trap of just substituting “Oh it’s God’s will” for “Everything happens for a reason” without understanding the difference, let’s take a look at what the Bible means when it uses the words “God’s will.” There are three different ways the concept of God’s will is used in the Bible.
3 Aspects of God’s Will
- His perfect will. This is the activity of God when He brings to pass exactly what He wants. It’s sometime called His sovereign will. Nothing can prevent this. It’s hidden from us until it happens. Deuteronomy 29:29 Romans 8:28 Matthew 24:36
- His perceptive will. This is God’s revealed will for us, how we are to live. We perceive this in the law and commandments. Unlike His perfect will this will can be broken. We have the ability but not the right to disobey His perceptive will. 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Exodus 20:1-17
- His pleasing will. This describes God’s attitudes. This aspect of God’s will is an expression of His desires in the face of our lost condition and disobedience. For example, He gives us the choice of accepting or rejecting Him but it would please Him if everyone made the right choice and had faith in Him. Matthew 18:14, 2 Peter 3:9
At the beginning of this post when I suggested “It’s God’s will” as a response to something that happens we can’t explain, I was talking about God’s perfect will.
It may seem difficult to grasp that God is so great that every little detail of life is under His control. Yet the Bible says without exaggeration He knows how many hairs are on your head Luke 12:7 and determines every roll of the dice Proverbs 16:33.
What I find most comforting about this is that this great amazing God is our loving Father. His perfect will is biased toward His kids. Read Psalm 103 to be reminded of how much He loves us. He is in control and we can trust Him. There is no one else.
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