In day 1, we mentioned how God’s Will was a combination of His clearly stated commands in Scripture for all people along with His specific individual guidance. We will see more of this further in the study. God’s Will is also a combination of His sovereign plan and strategy along with our ability to make decisions. The Apostle Peter uses both ideas in his first letter.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Pet. 3:17)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve– because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. (1 Pet. 4:1-2)
The first occurrence above is something out of a person’s control. It is included in God’s sovereign plan and strategy. Here, a person is doing what is right and should expect in return something good, pleasing, and perfect. They are following God’s clearly stated commands in Scripture. Yet for some reason God is allowing them to suffer instead. Peter is saying that if the suffering happens even while you are doing good, then understand it as God’s sovereign plan and strategy. There’s no need to get upset about it. He’s in control, He knows about it, and His plans are always for good. If you’re suffering for doing good, it will turn out for good. If you’re suffering for doing evil…then perhaps you are receiving what you deserve.
So, ask yourself, are you getting what you “deserve”? If you’re not doing the right thing, then perhaps you are experiencing the effects of your actions. If you’re doing the right thing and suffering occurs, then let God’s sovereign plan and strategy finish. God may be using your decision to do good even when you suffer to display His Glory and “silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15). Unbelievers are watching you and asking, “how can you follow a God who allows suffering in this world?” Your determination to follow God, no matter what, shouts loudly to those who are eager to mock God. It communicates a huge trust in God. It communicates a belief that God is really good in spite of the current events and circumstances when things are out of your control. We never know how God is using us to speak to others.
The latter occurrence above instructs the Christian therefore to be like Christ and to live for God’s desires and ways instead of for our human desires and ways. Here, it is something within a person’s control. They have the ability to decide to live for their wants or for God’s wants. This is similar to Matthew 26:39 where Jesus asked for the “cup of suffering” to not happen if at all possible as He was about to die on the cross for the sins of the world. Yet, He went on to say, “not as I will, but as you will.” On one side, the desire of Jesus was not to die on the cross. Jesus had a desire to not bear the weight of the world’s sin on Himself. It would be too painful to go through. Yet, Jesus was willing to give up that will/desire/want for God’s will/desire/want. He wished there was another way, but since God said it needed to be done…He did it.
That’s the same attitude we must have as we seek out His Will for our lives. Sometimes, we can hear God’s instructions, but we can push it aside because it doesn’t look pleasant. We must be willing to say “ok, I don’t understand what’s happening or why you’re asking me to do this, but God, I will do what you are asking me to do.”
PAUSE AND PRAY
Take a few moments and think about your situation. Are the effects of your decisions deserved? Have you not done what God told you to do? Have you done what God told you not to do? In those areas, ask God to forgive you. Confess those things to Him. In those areas where it seems like you’re doing good but the outcome isn’t good, pleasing, or perfect, ask God to enlighten your mind to that truth. Resolve in your heart to proclaim your confidence in God that He has a plan and strategy to not harm you, and to give you a hope and future. Determine to do God’s Will rather than your human will and to look beyond the immediate results.
This is part of a 4 week devotional plan for the series “Figuring Out God’s Will.” For complete details, see here.