“Is it God’s will because it is ‘good’, or is it good because it’s God’s will?”I thought for a minute. “I’m leaning more on the second.”
“Yeah, me too.” My friend replied with a smile.
She posed this question to me over dinner, a question she had also been asked by another friend. We were having a quiet dinner and many stories about God’s faithfulness in the joyful and hopeful times, and also even the bleak, desperate times. As talk turns to knowing and pursuing God’s will for our lives, we unknowingly toss views on this interesting question she shared to me.
“Is it God’s will because it is good and favourable to us, or is it good and favourable to us because it’s God’s will?”
We’re all about knowing God’s will for our lives.
People always want to know what happens next, even if the steps to having a successful, fruitful life are not littered with arrows and specific directions. We always want “The Plan”. We always wonder about the complete picture, or at least the snippet of it, today. Is it His plan because it is good? Or is it good because it’s His plan?
We’re always faced with the dilemma of wondering about it, chasing it, stepping onto it, claiming it. We always wonder about what’s good, better, best. We declare that promise. “For I know of the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future…” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I’ve never heard of anyone wanting the worst things to happen to them. I’ve never heard of anyone not seeking the good for themselves. Whether we’re humbled or entitled, our hearts desire the good things: joy, fulfillment, love, peace.
But ‘good’ is a relative term. Even with believers, sometimes we confuse the good only for the things that are pleasant: the happy, chilled, perfect things; things comfortable, things we can control, things we expect.
To some, we’re still not comfortable attaching ‘good’ to things that break us, or claw helplessly at us. We think it’s so bad, that we need an intervention or deliverance.
But how do we assign ‘good’ to the everyday battles we face?
In Genesis, we first hear about the word ‘good’ straight from the Creator’s mouth. On and on in the Bible, He calls things good and pleasing. By David, we hear of God’s goodness all the time — as with the other men and women of God. When we praise God’s name, we say He is good. We declare of His goodness. We extol His excellent qualities.
In our time, ‘good’ gets thrown out rather easily. That lunch was good. That presentation was good. This coffee is better than the other one. There’s a range and a standard for everyone. ‘Good’ isn’t as simple and uniform as we think.
This is why we’re confused about God’s will. The job is easy, and that one’s harder. This one has higher pay. This must be God’s will.
I like beans. I hate okra. Beans are good; okra is not. I love jack fruit, it’s sweet and not as smelly. Durian is bad; so much cholesterol and boy, it smells so bad. See the flaw in the argument?
The thing is, we like to assume that something is God’s will because it aligns with our choice standard of what we think is good, and not the other way around. When we box God to our thinking, it’s as if we’re saying that God is aligned with our thoughts and desires, rather than the reverse: when we ought to seek to be aligned to His thoughts and His desires. When we peg only our desires to God’s will, we miss the point that it is God who has a plan over our lives, and all of His desires for us are good, even if those include the things we’d really rather not face.
Yes, we do have our own goals and set plans in sight, but we don’t always know what is (or choose to be in) God’s will, and therefore not always walk in the best place for His purpose.
Take Paul, for example. He was imprisoned for speaking about Jesus, and yet writes to his brothers and sisters in the faith that his imprisonment has done great work for the spread of the Gospel. I’m sure it wasn’t his plan to get imprisoned, but he took a look at what it caused for the kingdom of God, and embraced that plan. Perhaps we have those episodes; but we refuse to look at those circumstances favorably.
So what, then, is ‘good’? When we acknowledge that ‘goodness’ is part of the character of God and not relative to our bias, we establish that what comes from Him is good, because that’s his character. Because God’s will ‘is good, pleasing, and
perfect’, then the goodness of it does not just stem from His will, but from God Himself, which makes everything He plans and does to be good.
His will is not relative to our circumstances, then, because His will is rooted from His nature, which is good. Whether it happens that we had a perfect day or a really bad day, His plans and purposes prevail, and His name is glorified when we embrace that His will is at work.
Though it is difficult to acknowledge that at times, faith kicks in to remind us that a gracious and just God has already mapped out His entire will for our whole lives; and that He genuinely knows and desires only the best for us as we walk with Him. It’s complete surrender to not particularly know or understand all that goes on, but to continue to give Him praise for who He is.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and 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)
Author: Alyssa C.