Matthew 6:10 KJVThy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
From what we have already seen it becomes clear that the most important thing in the world is to obey the will of God; the most important words in the world are “Thy will be done.” But it is equally clear that the frame of mind and the tone of voice in which these words are spoken will make a world of difference.
(i) A man may say, “Thy will be done,” in a tone of defeated resignation. He may say it, not because he wishes to say it, but because he has accepted the fact that he cannot possibly say anything else; he may say it because he has accepted the fact that God is too strong for him, and that it is useless to batter his head against the walls of the universe. He may say it thinking only of the ineluctable power of God which has him in its grip. As Omar Khayyam had it:
“But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Checkerboard of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the closet lays.
The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that Toss’d you down into the Field,
He knows about it all–He knows–HE knows!”
A man may accept the will of God for no other reason than that he has realized that he cannot do anything else.
(ii) A man may say, “Thy will be done,” in a tone of bitter resentment. Swinburne spoke of men feeling the trampling of the iron feet of God. He speaks of the supreme evil, God. Beethoven died all alone; and it is said that when they found his body his lips were drawn back in a snarl and his fists were clenched as if he were shaking his fists in the very face of God and of high heaven. A man may feel that God is his enemy, and yet an enemy so strong that he cannot resist. He may therefore accept God’s will, but he may accept it with bitter resentment and smouldering anger.
(iii) A man may say, “Thy will be done,” in perfect love and trust. He may say it gladly and willingly, no matter what that will may be. It should be easy for the Christian to say, “Thy will be done,” like that; for the Christian can be very sure of two things about God.
(a) He can be sure of the wisdom of God. Sometimes when we want something built or constructed, or altered or repaired, we take it to the craftsman and consult him about it. He makes some suggestion, and we often end up by saying, “Well, do what you think best. You are the expert.” God is the expert in life, and his guidance can never lead anyone astray.
When Richard Cameron, the Scottish Covenanter, was killed his head and his hands were cut off by one Murray and taken to Edinburgh. “His father being in prison for the same cause, the enemy carried them to him, to add grief unto his former sorrow, and inquired at him if he knew them. Taking his son’s head and hands, which were very fair (being a man of fair complexion like himself), he kissed them and said, ‘I know them–I know them. They are my son’s–my own dear son’s. It is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me or mine, but hath made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.'” When a man can speak like that, when he is quite sure that his times are in the hands of the infinite wisdom of God, it is easy to say, “Thy will be done.”
(b) He can be sure of the love of God. We do not believe in a mocking and a capricious God, or in a blind and iron determinism. Thomas Hardy finishes his novel Tess with the grim words: “The President of the Immortals had finished his sport with Tess.” We believe in a God whose name is love. As Whittier had it:
“I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air.
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.”
As Browning triumphantly declared his faith:
“God, Thou art love! I build my faith on that …
I know thee who has kept my path and made
Light for me in the darkness, tempering sorrow
So that it reached me like a solemn joy.
It were too strange that I should doubt thy love.”
And as Paul had it: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?” ( Romans 8:32 ). No man can look at the Cross and doubt the love of God, and when we are sure of the love of God, it is easy to say, “Thy will be done.”