"Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." (Matthew 6:10)This was part of Jesus' instructions to His disciples about how to pray. Many of us say it, one way or another. (The model prayer was just that, a model to help us construct our own prayers - Jesus said "in this manner pray", not "repeat this word-for-word every time you pray" and He also warned against "vain repetition" in prayer.) ...But do we really mean it?
Do we really want God's will to be done, no matter what? ...Or do we assume that what we really, really want must be God's will, because we really, really want it? Are we willing to completely give up the things we think are important because God has something better in mind - even if that something better involves pain, suffering and tragedy throughout our human existence?
Many atheists and agnostics point to the horrible suffering and tragedy in the world as proof that there is no God. We call God our father - yet what loving father would allow his children to die of hunger when he had the power to prevent it?
The difference between God and mere human parents is that He has our Eternal interests at heart. Let me give an example. Yesterday morning, my oldest daughter went outside to find her treasured chicken lying dead with its head bitten off. If I had forseen that this would happen, I would have done everything I could to prevent it. God could have prevented it, but He didn't - not because He doesn't care about small things, but because He knows that there can be an eternal benefit from this small "tragedy" for my daughters or myself. Would I have had the courage to let the chicken have it's head bitten off if I could have prevented it, even knowing it would have some eternal benefit? I think perhaps not. God's will is that all should be saved and He will allow whatever suffering is necessary now to achieve that ultimate end - for all to share in the unimaginable joy of eternal life.
Sometimes I let my children suffer in small ways to help them learn important lessons. But could I bring myself to let one of them make a mistake that would leave them paralysed for the rest of their lives - even if I knew it would make the difference between them choosing Eternal Life and Eternal Death? As incomprehensible as it is to our human minds, the suffering that God allows in the world is proof of His incredible and boundless love for every single one of us. He knows that only tragedy and suffering - the results of us doing things our way - will prove that our way doesn't work... Only then will many finally choose Life.
Faith is not about believing that God will shield us from pain and make things better. Faith is trusting that even the pit of despair has a purpose. Faith is not the belief that God will give us our hearts desire, but that He will teach us to desire what is truly valuable.
Genuinely meaning it when we say "Your will be done" is an enormous step of faith. We are saying to God "I trust Your plans for my life, even if it means realising my worst fears." If we really mean it, "Your will be done" doesn't necessarily mean that the right job will turn up at the right time - it may mean that we are unemployed for life. "Your will be done" doesn't necessarily mean that our pain will stop or our sickness be healed in time - it may mean that we learn to live with increasing pain and incapacity.
God has promised that He will proved our basic physical needs. Jesus said
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)All the way back in the book of Dueteronomy in the Old Testament, we read that Moses urged the Israelites to "choose life" (Dueteronomy 30:19). God's will is always for the best in the end - are we ready to choose life? Are we ready to take a step of faith into the great and terrifying unknown and say with conviction "Your will be done"?