According to the Kind Intentions
- 2011 1 Sep
In many ways, the message to singles is no different than the message to those in other stages of life. Whether married or single, divorced or widowed, whether young or old, all want to know that the Lord they serve cares.
We desire this because if He cares, then the circumstances of our lives lie within His powerful and capable hands. Things do not automatically make sense, but there is peace in knowing He cares.
It is most important that we think rightly about God before we attempt to think rightly about our circumstances [please read that again]. All knowledge of life should flow from our understanding of God. All assessment of the way things are should be done in light of who God is.
I say this because most of our troubles lie not in how we conceive our circumstances but in how we conceive God. If we are confused in our conception of God our perception of our circumstances will be warped. If our circumstances dictate our understanding of God, He will be nothing more than a shifting shadow. And this is not our God. Rather, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
Does He care? The answer to this basic question is the foundation of all hope, all praise, and all thanksgiving. If He does not care then it seems utterly ridiculous for those who suffer to obey when Paul writes, “… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
If the circumstances are what matter, if they are to shape our thinking, then it is more than absurd to say to those in misery, “Give thanks!” It is simply insulting. Give thanks for what?
If circumstances determine our praise, then we praise when things are good and revile when times are hard. This is natural.
If circumstances determine our praise, then we raise our voices when we win and hurl curses when we lose.
If circumstances determined our praise, then we as singles would wait until we have crossed the threshold before we declared His glory. Only the married should give thanks. But they will tell you it is not any easier to give thanks in that place than in this.
If circumstances determined our praise, then even the married might refrain until death had proven the enduring quality of their vows.
But if praise and thanksgiving is indeed “God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus” then it must indeed be in “all circumstances.” This giving thanks is contentment marked by confidence in WHO God is. There is no other way to be content in “whatever the circumstances” than to trust that God loves us in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11).
We begin first with our perception of God, and then we move to our circumstances.
We first orient our minds towards the nature of our God, and then consider our circumstances.
We first declare WHO HE IS, and then we attempt to understand the place in which we find ourselves.
We don’t give thanks FOR the circumstances; we give thanks IN the circumstances.
Sometimes He lays us down in green pastures.
Sometimes He leads us besides still waters.
And sometimes He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death.
“So,” you ask, “where is the restoration of soul He promised?”
It is coming. But first take this and drink it. It may be bitter on your lips, may be hard to swallow, but it will be sweet to your soul. He cares for you and your lack of husband or wife is no evidence to the contrary.
There would be no need to cause all things to work together for good if all things were Good. So He is in all circumstances bringing us to green pastures and still waters. He is in all things working to restore our souls that we might walk in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
In Ephesians we are told that, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. …” (Ephesians 1:5). Take your eyes off your circumstances and drink in the fact that His willing our salvation was an act of kindness. We are told that He does this because of the “glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).
Put down your dispute for a moment and consider that no one forced His hand. His offer of grace and His acceptance of us were done “freely.” He has acted in Love. In the same way He forgave our sins “according to the riches of His grace. …” (Ephesians 1:7). But don’t stop there.
Scripture tells us that our Lord’s “kind intention” led Him to “freely bestow” “the richness of His grace” which He then “lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:8).
Consider these facts when you consider your circumstances.
Consider this first as you come to know God and THEN turn and see your circumstances.
Consider the God of kind intentions, lavished love and rich grace, freely bestowed.
What I love and what brings me peace during this time of loneliness and longing is the intensity with which Paul communicates this simple truth about our God. He does not code his message nor does he allow the myriad possible circumstances to mitigate his message. Whatever else may be going on, the one constant is a God who is able to calm the storm. It is not the waves but we who have trouble hearing when He whispers, “Peace! Be still” (Mark 4:39)! The water is calm, but our hearts are still troubled.
I have no idea what you are going through. I know only my own struggle to give thanks. I know only my own struggle to believe and confess that He cares. But the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that HE CARES!
What we need most to trust is the “kind intention of His will.”
What we need most to know is that He cares.
What we need most to know is that He gives freely!
What we need most to know is that He gives lavishly!
While we do not have what we want, the circumstances are louder than the whispered truths. And the circumstances make sense when they speak. They whisper the content of our hurting hearts. They breathe with honesty what we would not think to say out loud. But they speak faithlessness. They speak hopelessness and show an ignorance of God. They are to be answered in the same way Jesus answered His tempter during His time in the desert, “It is written. …”
Then, having considered God we can consider our circumstances and give thanks not FOR our circumstances but IN our circumstances. We are not left as orphans (John 14:18). The circumstances do not define God, do not define our lives, nor should they limit our praise. Give thanks always, because even the air we breathe has been lavished upon us.
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion.
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**This article originally published on March 5, 2009.