During World War II Dr. Leslie D. Weatherhead gave five talks on the will of God to his City Temple congregation in England. Fortunately for the rest of the world, they were published. Every time I hear "It's God's will," I think of this remarkable little book and how it clarified God's will for me.
Dr. Weatherhead separated God's will into three parts: 1) Intentional; 2) Circumstantial, and 3) Ultimate:
1) God's intentional will is for our good. This is Adam and Eve in the Garden. When God created Adam and Eve, it was His intention that they live forever and be happy. But they sinned and were expelled from Paradise.
2) His circumstantial will is because of the circumstances in our lives. It is within this will that we find God's permissive will. This is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is Job 42:2: "I know (faith!) that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted."; It is the all of Romans 8:28, that glorious rod and staff of the grieving: "We know that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I know (wisdom) I can (possibility) do (accomplishment) all (faith) things whatsoever He asks!
3) His ultimate will is for His glory and our good. This is Christ's resurrection and our resurrection. It is us all in the New Earth. The wonderful revelation to me as I read this book is that God's intentional will finally becomes His ultimate will, even as we go through the circumstances of our life.
Dr. Weatherhead gives the example of the young man in London whose intention was to be an architect, but because the war changed his circumstances, he joined the Army. At the time this was the honorable course. The young man could not control the evil circumstances of Hitler and his desire to conquer the world, but he could control his reaction to them.
As I read the book I was comforted in the fact that nothing falls outside the circle of Divine Providence: 1) the knowledge of God embraces it; 2) His power is sovereign over it; 3) His mercy holds it creatively. The key here is God's goodness. The parent does not will evil for his or her child; neither would a perfect God will evil for His children. At the time Dr. Weatherhead gave his talks, the people in England needed to know that there was a living and loving God in spite of the horror going on.
We need to understand God's will and its components before we tell the person prostrate with grief that "It's God's will." After I read this wonderful little book I viewed us as being in God's ICU unit every day, and God taking care of us as only He can do, no matter what our circumstances.
Thank You, Father!