We've all done it. Something distressing, confusing, or negative happens and we quip, "It must be God's will!" Sometimes it's not even a quip; we truly and deeply believe it.
While I absolutely believe that God is sovereign, I've started wondering if some of the things we assign to God's will are actually just products of living in a fallen and broken world. Bodies die, people choose to sin, pain and suffering were ushered into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. That was not God's plan.
I'm a firm believer in saying what we actually mean, and when we say "It's God's will" I think what we really mean is..."I have no earthly idea why this would happen, but, somehow, God must be in this or my life makes no sense." Without meaning or sense we would be lost, so we grasp at possible answers to ground ourselves, or sometimes, to lessen the responsibility that should rest on our own shoulders.
Lately, as I've studied the face of confusion and distress I have thought that the question isn't really, is this God's will or not? The question is how will God use what has happened for His purpose and glory?
I think there are many things that happen that aren't as God would plan it...sin for one. And, when Satan waged war on God he was determined to bring about as many casualities as possible. But the story tells us that our God is victorious. And, He is a master at redeeming broken things for His purposes.
Maybe the terrible or confusing thing that threatens to level our lives isn't God's will, but God will surely use that thing to bring glory to His name if we let Him.
I can't in good conscience tell someone (or myself for that matter) that the pain they face was willed by God. That would take responsibility off the shoulders of the people involved, or in the very least, ignore the fact that the world is a broken place, bearing the hallmarks of the Fall.
But I can tell them that our God is bigger than all the brokenness and, while I can't fathom the intricacy of His plans in the least, I do know that ultimately His will is to show His mercy and redemption to the whole world, through us.
So, let's not pretend that our little human minds can understand the entirety of God's will. Instead, I'm going to choose to trust that no matter what happens, or why, I can trust that God has already made a plan to work it into His beautiful purposes, and find hope in the promise of a day where all pain is ended and all brokeness has been repaired...what a day to look forward to.