The past year has set my mind whirling with pondering "the will of God". In Colombia, we had peace as that God was in the middle of what was happening; though that peace was in stark contrast to the terrible devastation we felt. However, upon coming home, we felt stuck. Utterly, completely, sometimes hopelessly, stuck. I read about this feeling in a book by H. Norman Wright, where he described the after effects of grief as being stuck on ice; afraid to take a step for fear of sprawling again. And so one just stands still.
But it hasn't just been grief that has caused me to feel so stuck, or to fear moving in any direction. The reality that trusting God might mean further pain has kept me motionless. As I look back, the comments that often made me the maddest were the ones around "God has a plan." To someone who is experience deep emotional pain, that is not helpful. They are already acutely aware that God's will for their life at that moment is to suffer. One immediately knows that life down the road is not going to be void of more pain, and the thought of it happening again, experiencing this pain again, is too much to think about.
As I've thought about God's will and what that really means in my life, I have come to find that it is not quite as mysterious as I once thought. My will interjects itself where it shouldn't. Sometimes we as followers of God think that we need a "sign" from God as to which direction to take in our life, or what choice to make. I don't think God has a schematic drawn out with all of our moves, and what "his will" is. Instead, ultimately God can and will use all of our choices, decisions and actions to further his kingdom and bring glory to himself. Our task is to accept the life in front of us. There are many choices that we can "just make" and accept the outcome of whichever one.
When we suffer intense anguish, something miraculous happens. We see ourselves for what we truly are: helpless. Totally, completely helpless and in need of a Savior. In those times, our only recourse is to turn to God. There is nothing else, no one else. It feels literally like turn to God or die.
But it is not always for us to receive immediate comfort. Our life must still heal, and while we have Biblical hope in Christ, it takes time for our minds and emotions to process through what has happened. It may sound "wrong" for me to say that during times of my deepest heartache God was no comfort. But, it's true. Nothing was comfort. There was no way to escape the pain. So how does that work with the only recourse being to turn to God? How can one, at once, turn to God and yet experience no comfort from Him? For me, comfort came in God sustaining me. I knew that this pain, the pain of the children, was not in vain. God's ultimate plan is for us to be shaped into His image and glorify Him. I knew I was not alone, but what I wanted was God to literally be next to me telling me my pain was not in vain. Comfort was not what I expected.
I'm not sure why I'm saying all of this. Maybe it's to open someone's eyes as to how to be a friend to someone who is in pain. Or maybe it's to share with someone in pain that God's comfort might not come as we expect it to, but God will be there.
I've been reading a book that's very encouraging. It's called He Leadeth Me. Here is a little bit:
"Now with sudden and almost blinding clarity and simplicity, I realized I had been trying to do something with my own will and intellect that was at once too much and mostly all wrong. God's will was not hidden somewhere "out there" in the situations in which I found myself; the situations themselves were his will for me. What he wanted was for me to accept theses situations as from his hands, to let go of the reins and place myself entirely at his disposal. He was asking of me an act of total trust, allowing for no interference or restless striving on my part, no reservations, no exceptions, no areas where I could set conditions or seem to hesitate. He was asking a complete gift of self, nothing held back. It demanded absolute faith: faith in his existence, in his providence, in his concern for the minutest detail, in his power to sustain me, and in his love protecting me. It meant losing the last hidden doubt, the ultimate fear that God will not be there to bear you up....
Of course we believe that we depend on God, that his will sustains us in every moment of our life. But we are afraid to put it to the test. There remains deep down in each of us a little nagging doubt, a little knot of fear that we refuse to face or admit to ourselves, that says, 'Suppose it isn't so.' We are afraid to abandon ourselves totally into God's hands for fear he will not catch us as we fall. It is the ultimate criterion, the final test of all faith and belief, and it is present in each of us, lurking unvoiced in a closet of our mind we are afraid to open. It is not really a question of trust in God at all, for we want very much to trust Him; it is really a question of our ultimate belief in his existence and his providence, and it demands the purest act of faith."
-He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek, pg 77-78