While praying the other morning, I became overwhelmed by the needs and tough situations of so many people I know. I threw up my hands in defeat and simply asked for God to keep us all in the center of His perfect will.

Then I wondered what that actually is. My ideas of perfect don’t seem to line up with God’s.

A perfect day for me would be easy, productive, conflict-free, nice weather, good mood, good health, good feelings…

These might be God’s perfect will in Heaven, but God’s perfect will on earth is something else entirely.

God’s perfect will on earth undoubtedly includes suffering, pain, difficult emotions…

We don’t have to look far in the Bible to see examples of people (not characters, these were real people. Don’t we kind of forget that sometimes?) living out God’s perfect will.

Take Mary, for example: nine months pregnant and riding on a bouncy donkey in the middle of a cold night; giving birth in a stinky barn and laying her precious newborn (The Bread of Life) in an animal feeding trough.

I don’t know about you, but I think I would’ve thought I’d screwed up somehow and gotten way of track. Surely these less-than-pleasant circumstances were not what God intended.

By contrast, I am also guilty of thinking that when things fall together easily, that God must have orchestrated it. Sometimes that’s true, but we must remind ourselves that when we think things are too difficult or too uncomfortable to be God’s will, that in fact, our Sovereign God is not just sometimes sovereign.

And it’s really quite simple what we need to do. Submit to the God of the Universe. Fully submit. It’s not scary, it’s liberating! Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and accept that if things aren’t turning out the way I prayed, then maybe my will wasn’t so perfect after all.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

So we should pray in Jesus’ words of total submission, the night before God’s perfect will placed him on the agonizing path to the cross, “not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

And we should remind ourselves that even though God’s perfect will for earth can be so ugly to our human eyes, we do not walk by sight! We walk by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7) And the fact that we rage against the ways of earth should be a clue that we were made for Heaven.

And we hold on to the idea that if God allows really bad things to happen, he must have *really* good reasons. Easter could not have happened without Good Friday. Jesus could not have been resurrected if he hadn’t died. And prophesy couldn’t have been fulfilled if it all hadn’t happened the way that it did.

So “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

So while God’s perfect will may not look perfect or feel perfect to us, we must choose trust. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

 

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