It is said that one person dies of hunger every 10 seconds. This is about 8500 people who die every single day. Many of us have lived through wars and seen acts of senseless violence. Even in the last couple of years there seems to have been one terrible event after another. When we look closer to home we see sickness and conflict. Broken families and the passing of people for no apparent reason at all. All of this makes no sense and we conclude that life is not fair. In the midst of these kinds of suffering, who has not asked God “Where has You been?” Which of us have not asked God; Why do you allow certain things to happen?
However there is alway a time for us to be reminded that as the children of God, we are to be strong. and bold. When we have no answers to some of life’s most difficult questions, we just learn to boldly and faithfully look at what Scripture tells us about life here on earth. We do this so that we can be reminded of how God has been faithful in the lives of those in scripture and those who have gone before us. We must remember the ways in which God has also been faithful to us in our lives.
We must be reminded of these things: because in the face of dire circumstance, we will often forget. We may be wrongfully putting the blame on God.
“Why have you forsaken me?”
Scripture reveals to us that God’s will for this world has never been pain, violence or suffering. It has been; from the very beginning, love and peace. We know this to be true because we see it in God’s will for Jesus and His ministry. We see how God was more than willing to give up His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross to bear the shame of all humanity so that He could put an end to suffering. We could be reconciled to Him as His children, as it was meant to be. Christ hung on that Cross and gave up His last breath to put an end to violence. To put an end to oppression, to injustice and to suffering.
He died on the Cross to ultimately bring us peace.
THIS is God’s will.
Humanity has many times perverted God’s will for its own bigoted and selfish needs. God’s will was (and is!) for the salvation of us all. God has been doing this work since the beginning of time. We are the witnesses to this.
To pray “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is an expanding of the heart behind “thy kingdom come”. To pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven calls us to do more than just be the hands and feet of Christ in building His kingdom. In fact it calls us to do more than bring healing and reconciliation, to feed the hungry, clothe the needy or to care for the orphans and widows. To pray “Thy will be done” calls us to have faith. It calls us to have the faith, and the eyes of faith, to see how God has been and continue to work in the world today.
In other words, it pushes us beyond simply being good people doing good deeds. It calls us to shed our cynicism and hopelessness. It asks of us to surrender our exasperations, frustrations and pessimisms.
It calls us to remember and to believe, that this very same God:
Who brought the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised land
Who has time and time again restored, saved and redeemed His people.
Who had been proven in scripture to be faithful to His promises
Is the very same God we worship today.
In Genesis 28 we see the story of Jacob fleeing from all that he knows and holds dear. Although he is carrying with him this amazing blessing from his father, he also carries the shame, guilt and fear of having cheated his elder brother Esau out of both his birthright and his father’s blessing. His life has been plagued with shameful acts which result in him fleeing for his life. His circumstances were less then great… they were terrible! Here we find him alone laying his head down on a stone which was the only thing that could give him comfort.
But God shows him a dream in which the angels of the Lord are marching up and down on a staircase from heaven to earth. And he hears the voice of God say:
“I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen 28. vv13-15)
This is an amazing thing because God is re-iterating a promise a covenant He made to his grandfather Abraham. God tells Jacob that it is HE who will become Israel. It is by him that God would make His people.
Now to Jacob, this made no sense. He was a cheater and a liar who stole from his brother and tricked his father. He was a carrier of a blessing that he received on dishonest terms. How could it be that God would uphold His promise through Him?
Yet God takes this Jacob just as he is; shameful, terrified. And set him up to become the father of God’s people.
Jacob wakes and exclaims: ““Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”
Jacob’s epiphany here is that God and His angels were at work and were present not only in Bethel where he set the stone as a pillar, but always and everywhere! In other words, God was showing Jacob (and is showing us) that even when we are absolutely oblivious to what God is doing… Even when our circumstances absolutely suck… That God and all the heavenly hosts are doing His work! Though there are many times when we may sit in silence and frustration because God seems to be absent… God and His angels are at work, even now!
We are in many ways more like Jacob than we would think. We who believe carry the blessing and presence of the Spirit of God within us and yet we often live life like we are running for our lives. We live like our lives are out of control. We live like we are alone. When God is reminding us “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; … Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
What an incredible reminder! That God’s will for us is that we know that He is with us, and that He will keep us, and never leave us, until He has made good on His promise to us!
When we pray “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” we are being called not only to know what God’s will is for the earth, but also to bear witness to it! It is a call for us to have faith in His promise to us and to live like it!
Not only are we to be the hands and feet of God in the building of His kingdom, but we are also to be a people who’s faith proclaims the gospel truth of Jesus Christ in every facet of our lives. We are praying that the entirety of our lives, in all we do and say and are, proclaim that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are here AND at work, even today! It is a call and vocation that calls us to have the hope and faith in a God who was, and is, and is to come!
If we are the witnesses to this truth… Then just as Jacob set up a pillar to show this to the world, so ought we to set up pillars in our lives in how we live to proclaim to the world that we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is good. Yesterday. Today. And forever.