CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD
IV. HAPPINESS THAT COMES FROM PERFECT CONFORMITY
He who acts in perfect conformity to God’s will not only becomes a saint but he enjoys, even in this world, a perpetual peace. Alphonsus the Great, King of Arragon, and a most wise prince, on being one day asked whom he considered to be the happiest man in the world, replied that it was he who abandons himself to the will of God, and receives all things, prosperous or adverse, as from His hands.
To those who love God, all things work together unto good (Rom. viii. 28). Those who love God are ever content because their whole pleasure lies in the accomplishment of the Divine will, even in things that run counter to their own desires. Hence even afflictions bring them contentment, by the thought that in the acceptance of them they are giving pleasure to their Lord Whom they love: Whatsoever shall befall the just man it shall not make him sad (Prov. xii. 21). And, in truth, what greater contentment can a man ever experience than in seeing the accomplishment of all he desires? Now, whenever any one wills only what God wills or permits, then everything such a one wills does consequently come to pass. There is a story in the Lives of the Fathers of a certain countryman whose land was more productive than that of others, and who, on being asked how it happened replied that no one should be surprised at it, because he always had the weather he desired. “And how so?” he was asked. “Because,” replied he, “I desire no weather but that which God desires; and as I desire what God desires, so does He give me the fruits of the earth as I desire them.”
Souls that are truly resigned, says Salvian, if they are in a state of humiliation, desire humiliation; if they suffer poverty, they desire to be poor; in short, whatever happens to them, they desire it all, and therefore they are, in this life, happy. When cold or heat, rain or wind, prevails, he who is in a state of union with the Divine will says: I wish it to be cold, I wish it to be hot; I wish the wind to blow, the rains to fall, because God wishes it so. Does poverty, persecution, sickness, death come, I also wish to be poor, persecuted, sick; I wish even to die, because God wishes it so.
This is the blessed liberty the sons of God enjoy, worth more than all the lands and kingdoms of this world. This is that great peace the Saints experience, which surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7), and with which all the pleasures of sense; all gayeties, festivities, distinctions, and all other worldly satisfactions, cannot be compared; for these being unsubstantial and transitory, although, while they last, fascinating to the senses, do not bring peace, but affliction, to the spirit that desires true contentment. Hence it was Solomon, after having enjoyed worldly pleasures to the full, cried out in his affliction: But this also is vanity and vexation of spirit (Eccles. iv. 16).