Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You.
Isn’t that an amazing prayer? There are two things that struck me in reading those words. First, we need to be taught to have peace and assurance that God is in control. This lesson is learned in the second part of the prayer: to recall that all events (foreseen and otherwise) are ordained by God. It seems that the second part of that prayer is the most difficult to comprehend.
But everything ordained by God is for our good.The Apostle Paul endured a life that, through human eyes, would perhaps undermine my previous statement. He was beaten, stoned, left for dead, imprisoned, among other things. Yet, he kept his focus on God’s purpose in all things. In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes an encounter with an unspecified “thorn in the flesh.” His request for God to remove it was answered with profound call for Paul to rely on God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10):
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
Paul’s response could have been to argue the point (the why), to continue to beg for release from this thorn, to have a self-pity moment. But he doesn’t. He glories in the fact that God was using this moment for His purposes;
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecution, with difficulties for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
He understood the heart behind the author of that orthodox prayer. Early in his second letter to the Corinthians (4:7-10), he makes the comparison to earthen vessels:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down by not destroyed; always carrying about in the body of the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
We are fragile beings that endure hardship, at the allowance of our heavenly Father. He weaves both good and difficulty in our lives to make us into “little Christs.” Paul encouraged the believers in Philippi in this way:
…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Whatever He brings into our lives, challenges or joy, it is for our good and by His appointment. Our prayer should be to continue to see these moments with gratitude. For each moment reveals the heart of our Father.