The words “Thy will be done” are pretty famous in Scripture. Jesus taught us to say them in the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). He also taught us to say them when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion – “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
They are beautiful words of submission, of acknowledging that the Father’s plan is wiser than our own, and of letting go of our own selfishness to further the kingdom of God.
But do I really trust God enough to say them and mean them with my whole heart? I would love to think that I do. Yet I know the frailty of my own humanity and how I might doubt too easily that God knows best for my life.
I think I say, “Thy will be done,” but unconsciously temper it with, “So long as I can understand it, and it’s what I really want, and I like it.”
It’s easy enough to say, “Thy will be done” when it involves getting a job we were hoping for or a wedding we’ve always dreamed of or even a small sacrifice that we’re only slightly disappointed about.
But when our hearts are shattered into a thousand pieces? When our life suddenly takes a breathtaking twist we weren’t expecting? When we get terminated from a job and we don’t know where to go? When the temptations keep knocking louder and louder on our hearts? When we’ve longed for something day in and day out and every morning we wake up without it, our hearts aching a little more deeply? When those we love suffer from illnesses with no explanation?
How can we possibly say, “Thy will be done” in times like these?
It might seem implausible and maybe a little ludicrous.
Or it might be exactly the times when we need to say that phrase more than any other.
Because if it were left up to our will, of course none of those things would happen. But if they didn’t happen, we might miss out on something that could only happen in our hearts because of them. This is where the sovereignty and wisdom of God come into focus like never before.
You see, God’s plans for our lives are so much more intricately designed than we could ever fathom. They involve hundreds of events that we might never choose for ourselves – but which are the very instruments that draw us closer to God, form our character, and allow us to show His grace and love more clearly to a hurting world.
Because only God can take the painful shards of brokenness in our lives and make mosaics of grace that point to a greater reality – that He is fully in control and that He is safely bringing us through the messiness of a sin-infested world.
If we don’t learn to say, “Thy will be done,” we miss all of this. We cave in with bitterness and resentment towards God for not doing what we want Him to do with our lives. We angrily lash out at Him, instead of hearing His words of comfort – “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
If Christ had not submitted to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, the greatest transaction to save our souls would never have happened. He knew it would be agonizing – the worst punishment ever known to man. And yet He knew that His Father’s plans were far beyond the shame and anguish of the cross. And that’s why He could say, “Thy will be done.”
Can I therefore learn to look past the current despair of my situations and trust that God’s purposes are being fulfilled through them? Can I cast off my doubt that God can make anything good come out of them? Can I look to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, and know that He is refining me, strengthening me, and graciously walking through it with me?
I sometimes don’t have the strength to say with full meaning, “Thy will be done.” But I can cry out to the Spirit to intercede for me when my faith is weak and know that He will make it stronger. And over time, my trust and confidence will grow as I observe the faithfulness of my Savior day in and day out.
Sometimes I can look back on situations in my life that made no sense at the time and see the God-ordained effects from them. Sometimes I can’t. But even the ones I can’t, I know that God is still orchestrating them for eternal purposes, and I have to keep walking in faith through them.
For today, let me just learn to entrust the next twenty-four hours to my Savior and say, “Thy will be done in my heart that I may learn to be more like You.”
And may all of those days add up to a lifetime learning submission to the One Who loves me perfectly and calls me His own. That would be a life worth living.