We have been looking at how you can know what God’s will is when it isn’t quite obvious. This week I want to suggest that sometimes the best way to know God’s will for you is to consider what your circumstances permit.
If you have two options and you’re not sure which one to choose, it might be best to look at which one is the easiest to complete. This principle can be shown negatively when someone plans to do something yet are prevented from doing so. For example, Paul writes to the church in Rome: ‘I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles’ (Romans 1:13). Paul wanted to go to Rome but the circumstances prevented him from doing so – indicating God’s will.
The principle can also be shown positively where someone intends to do something but a better option reveals itself. When Paul writes to Corinth he says: ‘I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me’ (1 Corinthians 16:7-9). Paul wants to go to Corinth but the circumstances are too favourable in Ephesus – indicating God’s will.
Now, you must be careful about thinking that the easier option is always what God wants you to do. Doing God’s will is often very difficult and not always the easiest option – the ten commandments show that clearly. And sometimes God puts us under hard circumstances to see whether we will persevere through the trial: ‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him’ (James 1:12). Therefore it may be that God wants you to choose the more difficult option to test and strengthen you.
But what I want you to consider is that if you’re going to have to really force something, maybe God is telling you what his will is. For example, if you want to become a missionary but every door appears to close in your face, God’s will might be that you stay put for the time being.
Do you consider your circumstances when you try to determine the will of God for you?