God is good. Yes, all the time.
But it strikes me that my personal well-being, or that of someone for whom I pray, is not an indication that it is so. For would it not also follow that my lack of healing, or that lack for the person for whom I pray, makes God not good? If I am blessed in good health, am I then not blessed when paralyzed or blind or dying with cancer? If I am blessed for having food on my table, then are those who are hungry not blessed? This cannot be the test of God’s goodness.
Jim Elliot, in a letter to his future wife Elizabeth, stated it this way: “Is it not for all its sting, a wonderful way to live, Betty? To dream, and want and pray, almost savagely; then to commit and wait and see Him quietly pile all dreams aside and replace them with what we could not dream, the realized Will?”
Jim got it – God’s will was not about us or our wills or our earthly lives. He got it, that at any moment his life could be taken from him. And it was – at the age of 28 – in the jungles of Ecuador by those to whom he was trying to minister. Yet, Elizabeth and later Christians have honored his life and death as that of a man given wholly to God’s leading.
While my little world revolves around me, and yours around you, our worlds are as an ant’s. We see little more of God’s universe and God’s plan than our own anthill and a few surrounding tall blades of grass. Surely though, God’s plan, God’s will, is vast and wide and greater than our imaginations. Not about my health, not about my career path, not about whether I or my loved ones live or die today. Not about me or you at all, except that somehow, in the grandest of all plans, you and I have been invited to work together with God in a plan far bigger than us.
What is God’s will? What is God’s plan? Today we see through a glass dimly, but what we do know is more than we can master in this lifetime. Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself, and love your enemies. Care for the widows and orphans, welcome the foreigner, feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless . . . Judge not their worthiness. We cannot see the splinter in their eye for the plank in our own. God invites us to be humble, to serve together in unity even those we don’t like, to “be ye kind one to another” to everyone. Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
No, I don’t think our sickness, our wellness, our raise at work, or our death, defines “God’s will.” We do not get off so easily. Nor are God's followers recognized by our health or our earthly success. But by our love. To each other. To the least of these. Love.
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