CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD
VI. GOD WISHES ONLY OUR GOOD.
Oh, how great indeed is the folly of those who resist the Divine Will! They will have to endure sufferings, for no one can ever prevent the accomplishment of the Divine decrees. Who resisteth his will? (Rom. ix. 19). And, besides, they will have to bear the burden of their sorrows without deriving benefit from them; nay, they will draw down upon themselves even greater chastisements in the next life, as well as greater disquietude in this: Who hath resisted him, and hath had peace? (Job ix. 4). Let the sick man make as great an outcry as he will about his pains; let him who is in poverty murmur and rage and blaspheme against God as much as he pleases — what will he gain by it all, but the doubling of his afflictions? “What are you in search of, O foolish man,” says St. Augustine, “when seeking good things? Seek that one Good in Whom are all things that are good.” What are you going in search of, poor foolish man, outside your God? Find God, unite yourself to His holy will, bind yourself up with it; and you will be ever happy, both in this life and in the next.
In short, what does God will but our good? Whom can we ever find to love us more than He? It is His will, not merely that no one should perish, but that all should save and sanctify their souls: Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance (2 Peter iii. 9). This is the will of God, your sanctification (1 Thess. iv. 3). It is in our good that God has placed His own glory, being, as St. Leo says, of His own nature, goodness infinite. And as it is of the nature of goodness to desire to spread itself abroad, God has a supreme desire to make the souls of men partakers of His own bliss and glory. And if, in this life, He sends us tribulations, they are all for our own good: All things work together unto good (Rom. viii. 28). Even chastisements, as was observed by the holy Judith, do not come to us from God for our destruction, but in order to secure our amendment and salvation: Let us believe that they have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction (Judith, viii. 27).
In order to save us from evils that are eternal, the Lord throws the shield of His good will around us: O Lord, thou hast crowned us as with a shield of thy good will (Ps. v. 13). He not only desires, but is eager for our salvation: The Lord is careful for me (Ps. xxxix. 18). — For what is there that God will ever refuse us, says St. Paul, after having given us His own Son? He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also with him given us all things? (Rom. viii. 32). This, then, is the confidence in which we ought to abandon ourselves to the Divine dispensations, all of which have our good for their object. Let us therefore repeat, whatever circumstances may happen to befall us: In peace, in the self-same, I will sleep and I will rest; for thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope (Ps. iv. 10). Let us also place ourselves entirely in God’s hands, for He will certainly take care of us: Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you (1 Peter v. 7). Then, let our thoughts be fixed on God, and on the fulfilment of His will, that He may think of us and of our good. “Daughter,” said the Lord to St. Catharine of Sienna, “do thou think of Me, and I will ever think of thee.” Let us frequently repeat with the sacred spouse, My Beloved to me, and I to him (Cant. ii. 16). The thoughts of my Beloved are for my welfare; I will think of nothing but of pleasing Him, and bringing myself into perfect conformity with His holy will. The holy Abbot Nilus used to say that we ought never to pray to God to make our will succeed, but to accomplish His will in us. And whenever things befall us that are not according to our wishes, let us accept them all, as from God’s hands, not merely with patience, but with joy, as did the Apostles when they went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus (Acts, v. 41).