It’s the Cause — Not the Effect

Accepting God’s will is the goal of a healthy spiritual life. Acceptance of God’s permissive will is an advanced stage of personal holiness.

Holiness is not the reward of a lifetime of loving service. We give a lifetime of loving service because we are holy. Holiness is not what happens to us if we are kind and forgiving. We are kind and forgiving because we are holy. Acceptance of the difficulties of life is the key ingredient of true holiness.

Those who have attained an advanced degree of holiness have done so primarily because of their basic disposition to do God’s will. This implies a willingness to accept all the bad things that God allows to happen in our life. Even though we do not fully understand it at the time, God can draw good from evil.

Let’s face it, bad things happen to good people. There is an abundance of misery and injustice in the world. Acceptance doesn’t mean that we should become doormats, or become absolute pacifists. It’s normal to complain, and fight back at times.

If one is disposed to do God’s will in all circumstances however, then one learns to accept what God allows to happen in our lives, even if we detest it. (Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come). Your soul becomes ready for further growth when it reacts with faith not emotions. Paul said, “Be grateful in all circumstances.” Nobody can really do that, but we can be disposed to try.

There will be doubt and confusion all the way along. Even the saints lived in emotional turmoil as they tried to lift up their spirits. We gain heaven one day at a time, even though we may never be clear about what’s happening to us.

Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk who wrote Seven Story Mountain, was no stranger to controversy and suffering. He wrote a helpful book on solitude, in which he revealed his interior struggle. Here is an excerpt:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself. The fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you actually does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do that, you will lead me by the right road. Though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

This humble prayer expresses what most of us feel at times in our life. We are always trying to rise above the confusion and doubt. Our goal is to attain cheerful acquiescence. It sounds impossible, but with God’s grace all things are possible.

God wants to give us a share in His happiness. Trust His love and carry on in all circumstances. Never be discouraged. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again. In this way you can die in the peaceful knowledge that even though you were confused at times, you tried to do your best.

God smiles down upon you.

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  • plowshare

    Thomas Merton, at the end of his life, converted from Catholicism to Buddhism, lending a measure of irony to the quotation from him in this article.

  • drea916

    I know too many Catholics who chalk things up to God’s Will, when it’s really their fault and they aren’t taking responsiblity. They make poor choices, and then when it hits the fan they “Oh, I have to offer it up.” For example, not working hard enough, not managing their money or not taking care of their health, then when life catches up with them “God’s will- offer it up” Protestants do better in this regard. We need to learn some stuff from them (work ethic).