What is the will of God for your life? You’ve probably heard all kinds of answers, and probably wanted to know more specifics than God has told you. But you don’t need to guess: you just need to read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (ESV)
Consistent rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving is God’s will for you. Whoever you are. Maybe not as exciting an answer as what many of us want, but it is one we need to hear.
As I write this blog post, I could complain about lots of things. I have had very little sleep as my toddler is sick and needed attention while my wife was also sick and needed to catch up on sleep. I had to change my clothes twice in the past 24 hours due to various bodily fluids spilling on them (no need for details; you don’t want to know!). I changed some bed sheets at some early hour as well as a small child covered in vomit. I am recovering from a cold myself and have my oldest son home from school sick as well. It would be all too easy to just complain and feel sorry for myself.
But that is not God’s will for my life, according to 1 Thessalonians 5. If all I do is wallow in self-pity I am acting like life is all about me. I am acting as if my comfort and constant happiness is the most important thing in life. It’s not.
Sickness is a reminder to me that this world is broken and imperfect. All of us, however healthy we normally are, get sick. We are more fragile and limited than we would like to think. But as a Christian, this also encourages me because I know that this will not always be true. Because of Jesus’ victory over sin and death and all its symptoms like sickness, I can be confident of a future with no sickness or pain or frustration. And I am reminded when surrounded by sickness that I am incapable of even preventing a simple cold, let alone connecting myself with God. It is all grace, all God, and not due to me at all.
Thankfulness, rejoicing and prayerfulness are things that do not always come easily to me. I need to remind myself of them, especially on days like today. But all 3 of them are focussed on God and not me. If I have the attitude of thankfulness I am constantly reminded that all I have is from God, instead of worrying about what I do not currently have. If I have the attitude of rejoicing then I find the important things to remember, like salvation and grace and God’s love, instead of focussing on the immediate all the time. And all of this should lead to prayer. God is my Father, so I should speak to him, including my frustrations, and of course including my thanks and rejoicing.
God is good all the time. It is just that sometimes I need to be reminded of it more than others.