"Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."
G-d's Will; that ever-elusive, nebulous force that moves us about for purposes that are His alone. And it often seems that way. We are unsure, really, what the will of the Almighty is, much less how to find out. So, we pray for 'His will' to somehow magically appear in our consciousness; answers and direction for situations we are unsure or reluctant to handle. Much different from the model we see above.
Gideon was not sure of G-d's will, either. In response to the call of G-d, Gideon decides to make sure by testing the Holy One, not just once, but three times. Certainly Gideon didn't want to make a mistake, especially when so much was at stake (saving Israel from the Midianites, Judges 6), but is this what we must do to discern the will of G-d in our lives?
I suggest not. In fact, I have it on good authority that we make a mistake by directing our actions, our halachah, by the narrative we see in Scripture (for example having multiple wives or calling your wife your sister to save your neck). We can all see Gideon's dilemma; do the hard thing or play it safe because he wasn't sure of G-d's will. He even says to the Almighty, "You say that you have decided to use me to rescue Israel..." Was he hesitant to do what he knew he must or was he just being extra cautious? He certainly would have thought he'd been let off the hook if the tests failed, even though the LORD had already spoken directly to him. Was this a serious lack of faith on Gideon's part? Thankfully for Gideon, G-d was patient with him through this 'testing', and he eventually did as he was directed. But, what about us? Are we to test what we perceive the LORD is telling us?
Just Trying to Know
I have heard it often, perhaps even said it myself. "I'm just praying for G-d's will so I know how to minister..." At first blush that statement sounds sincere and even spiritual. However, as I consider how to minister to others, it becomes plain that I can, for sure, know the will of G-d in many, if not all, matters of interpersonal relationships. It's rather simple, really; all that is necessary is considering what the LORD has already said. He has revealed exactly how He wants us to 'minister' to each other - it is no mystery. Now, whether or not to buy that particular house or which college to choose may not be spelled out in Scripture (perhaps these are instances where confirmation of the right decision would be warranted). However, I can assure you that there are quite a few places we can look to see just how the LORD wants us to minister to each other in any situation.
We are to bear one anothers burdens.
We are to forgive, over and over.
(Colossians 3:13, Matthew 18:21-23)
We are to love with kindness and patience.
(1 John 4:7, Ephesians 4:2)
Ultimately, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
This is G-d's will. This is the marching orders for relationships at any and all levels. I'll be the first to say that relationships can be so very complicated. But the answer to how to minister and interact is oh-so simple. The holy will that we so desperately seek is spelled out clearly and succinctly in print and is readily available to all who look. But, be forewarned; if you are looking for G-d's will to line up with what you personally desire in a situation, to bolster your argument or somehow give you justification to dismiss or even hate another, you may not find it. For our LORD commands us to do what is difficult but right, to humble ourselves and put others ahead of our own wishes. I am fully convinced that this is the only way we bear the burden of another and minister to those that are hurting.
There will always be those who are struggling to find the will to go on - dark depression, unfortunate situations, or abusive history can make life seem unworthy of living. We, as emissaries of the Most High, can minister and come alongside even the most desperate and hopeless. Enough with the excuses and delay of waiting to hear G-d's will in our relationships. Today, we can be there for the emotionally bleeding and wounded, we can lend a shoulder to the neighbor limping with waning faith and we can cheer on the one who appears to have it all together but in reality is losing the battle. Let us all pray, not for the knowledge of G-'s will that has already been revealed, but for the strength and perseverance necessary to see, pray for, reach out and act in that perfect will by loving and serving the hurting in our midst.