‘Thy will be done.”
All faithful Christians recognize these words as part of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-13) and have most likely prayed them many times. Some churches pray them every Sunday.
But do we truly mean them? That is, do we really want God’s will done in our lives?
The Lord’s Prayer comes from Jesus instructing His disciples on how to pray. It is a model prayer that can be remembered by the acronym ACTS – we pray to God in Adoration, Contrition (forgiveness), Thankfulness and Supplication (what we ask of God). The prayer recognizes the sovereignty of God in our lives and our desire to conform to His will.
But what if God’s will for us is not what we want? What if God’s will for our lives is suffering, hardship, poverty or other difficulty? What if God calls us to do something we really don’t want to do?
That situation faced the Old Testament prophet Hosea. God called him to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him and cause him great heartache. The Lord told Hosea, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord” (Hosea 1:2).
Many of us in Hosea’s position would recoil at such a command. “Wait a minute, Lord. Surely You can’t mean that!” The natural tendency is to reject such advice and do instead what we think is best. (While it does seem out of character for God to ask such a thing, He was trying to use Hosea’s relationship to demonstrate the waywardness of Israel and their need to return to Him). Hosea obeyed God’s command. He married a woman named Gomer, was patient even in her unfaithfulness, waited for her to return, and then welcomed her in reconciliation. In the same way, God is patient with His wayward people, patiently waiting for them to return to him (2 Peter 3:9).
God’s will for our lives can often be unpleasant or difficult – a cancer diagnosis, a broken marital relationship, financial problems. Are will still willing to accept God’s will for our lives in such circumstances, as Hosea did?
The prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest demonstrates how to respond to God’s will. Jesus knew the pain and suffering that was before him – an unfair trial, and then mocking, beating, rejection and finally the pain of crucifixion. The human side of Jesus obviously wanted to avoid these things. “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me,” he prayed with such earnestness and emotion that the sweat was like drops of blood on His face (Luke 22:44). Yet in the same breath He was able to say, “Yet not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus was willing to accept the will of the Father even though He knew it would mean suffering and death.
It is perfectly fine and natural to ask God to take away hardship and suffering in our lives, and often times God does so. But at the same time, God sometimes calls us to walk through suffering as part of His will. Remember the attitude of Jesus in accepting what God called Him to do. The sign of a mature and growing faith is to accept God’s will even when we don’t want to.
“His will be done!”
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know.
Pastor Brad Schultz, Zion Evangelical Church, email@example.com