It was nearly a year ago I was talking to a college friend of mine, and he was telling me about how hard it is to watch people who have their lives all pulled together. You know the type… these people are the ones that have found their Godly spouses, the ones who have young families and cute household pets and their first home, the ones who have promising careers and nothing but positive things to say about God and his miraculous work in their lives. My friend paused as he thought of these people and that seemed to take over his Facebook feed, then said, “Well, where the hell is my miracle? When do I get to see God in my life? When do I get my divine intervention?”
Early 20’s angst? Maybe. But maybe not. I have my doubts that these questions are specific only to young adults. Actually, I know they’re not because I know “real” adults who are still asking similar questions. I don’t think these questions are exclusive to young adults but rather more acute for us, especially in the age of social media.
So how do we answer these questions of faith? Thy will be done. That’s what we say, right? That’s what we pray every week in church. That’s what we should pray every day. Thy will be done. We pray it because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray; that’s how he prayed. This petition is the most difficult petition in the Lord’s Prayer because it requires that we do what humans detest doing: relinquish control.
Have you ever thought about the way we say this passage though? I’m don’t mean our intentions, but rather the actual phrasing of this prayer. We pause directly after saying ‘Thy will be done,’ before moving on to the second half of that same sentence: ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ It’s not two phrases, but one: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ We are not vaguely praying that God’s will be done, but we are specifically praying that his will is carried out here on earth just as it is in heaven where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, and where the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. It is not a flighty petition for Jesus to do as he pleases and leave us out of it. It is a reminder that God’s will is perfect and complete, planned out before the dawn of time. But if that’s the case…. When the hell do I get to see my miracle?
To this, I can only say two things.
First: I understand. To all of you who have ever asked this question, to those of you who feel as though the hand of God has touched everyone but you, to those of you who feel lost, lonely, abandoned, hopeless, or as if your dreams don’t matter to God: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have to feel that way. I empathize because I have asked this question myself. It is so easy to look around and watch everyone’s life come together so apparently seamlessly as if God is serving them every possible opportunity and blessing on a silver platter. As you watch these people and their happiness, the New Man inside you says to rejoice with those who rejoice… but the Old Adam sits bitterly in the corner and wonders why God chose them instead of you. I know. I am both New Man and Old Adam daily. We all are.
This is a kind of suffering that we can’t talk about because it makes us look bad, jealous, or unfaithful. It’s the suffering of loneliness, the suffering of guilt for feeling this way, and the suffering of waiting on the Lord’s timing all wrapped up into one huge battle, and it feels like we lost before we even got started. It begins and ends with the same question: “When do I get my miracle?”
Second: There is a verse that I find great comfort in when trying to know and wait for God’s will. It’s one of the hardest verses to swallow in the New Testament, yet one of the most powerful, spoken by Peter in the book of Acts.
Consider Acts 3:14-15, “But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.”
You killed the Author of life.
This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. We killed the one who created life. We murdered God himself. But that’s not the end of the story by any means. The Gospel comes directly after that whopper of a phrase and Peter is quick to add, “whom God raised from the dead.” We killed God, but even that wasn’t enough to ruin God’s will for humanity. Jesus will always be stronger than our sins and mistakes. Always. And this is our comfort, that no matter how many mistakes we make, no matter how long we have to wait for our miracle:
We’re just not powerful enough to ruin God’s will.
Take comfort, because this is a theme throughout the Bible. Every single person God chose for a purpose did their very best to ruin his plans. Abraham? He lied to Pharaoh and was still the father of an entire nation of God’s people. David? He slept with Bathsheba and was still part of Christ’s lineage. Jonah? He ran away and Nineveh was still rescued. Peter? He denied Christ and was still one of the chief disciples. Paul? He murdered Christians and was still one of the most powerful preachers and prolific writers of the New Testament. It seems like every single person in the Bible did their very best to ruin God’s plan for the world. But none of them was strong enough to do it.
When we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we must remember that in one sense, we have already received our miracle. We find it in our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins received every Sunday at the altar of the Lord where he gives us his body and blood. We find it when we welcome a newly baptized child of God into the church. We find it when we hear the Word of God preached from the pulpit. This is our miracle: that we were lost, and yet found, and that we are graciously cared for by a Father in heaven who loves us.
For those of you who still wait on the will of God to be done in this life, those of you who are praying for guidance, healing, or a spouse: take heart. We must hold onto our faith that the will of God will be done, that we are not strong enough to ruin it, that God wants nothing but the best for us, and is powerful enough to make it happen. Like many aspects of faith, it is easier said than done. But saying it sure is a good start.