There are some issues that deeply divide the Christian community and explaining God’s Will certainly falls into that category. Those who emphasize that everything that happens in life is God’s will, point to passages that talk about the sovereignty of God. Those who emphasize the freewill of man point to passages that talk about our duty to obey.
One way that theologians have tried to answer this difficult question is by defining God’s Will in three different ways such as God’s Sovereign (Hidden) Will, His Revealed Will, and His Permissive (Perfect) Will (R.C. Sproul). Other’s divide the Will of God into two kinds, His Will of Decree (Sovereign Will that will always be fulfilled) and His Will of Command that we can choose to obey or disobey (John Piper). Still others talk about one Will of God manifest in two ways, His Antecedent Will (what God ideally desires) and His Consequent Will (what He permits).
However you understand the Will of God, there are questions that are hard to explain. How do natural disasters enter into God’s Will? When you sin is that God’s Will (John Calvin thought it was)? Can we frustrate the Will of God by our choices?
The Will of God plays into our lives in many ways – often in ways that cause us to struggle. One such area is the disappointments of life. Life is filled with disappointments. In fact for many people disappointments play a major role in life. For others life itself is a disappointment.
So how do we explain disappointments? When we don’t get the job we really wanted. When things don’t work out in what certainly appears to be the best way. When we struggle with health, finances, relationships, and even with ourselves. How are the disappointments in life related to the Will of God?
While we don’t have all of the answers, there are three things that I believe are clear in the Bible:
1. No one can know the mind of God (Romans 11:34), so we need to be careful in declaring our omniscience when it comes to His Will.
2. While we cannot explain everything about God’s Will we can rest in the truth that He can use even sinful/evil things – and the great disappointments in life – to accomplish His Will (Genesis 50:20).
3. Our responsibility is to conform to His Will that we know from the Word of God (Romans 12:2). That alone is enough to keep us busy!
Don’t let disappointments throw you off track in your life. They will come and go in the life of even the greatest of saints. It won’t help to deny them but it will help you to learn to handle them in a godly way. And finally concentrate on doing what you know (from the Bible) God wants you to do.
Stay in the Word