I believe that God’s will is about the kinds of people we are becoming. The choices and decision we make—about where to live and where to work, about our relationships and responsibilities, and about how to use time, money, and talent—matter most of all because of the way those choices shape and express our identities.
As we live in partnership and friendship with God, God uses our experiences to mold our personalities. It’s not so much that God sends or causes those experiences (I don’t believe God causes the wounds which come to us, but is with us as we undergo them). Instead, God is endlessly resourceful to use whatever happens to us for what Irenaeus, in the second century, called “soul-making.”
God can use failure to teach us about grace and forgiveness, success to teach us about gratitude and responsibility, and doubt to remind us about the vastness of reality and the mystery which remains for us to explore.
God can use the irritating and crazy-making people in our lives to teach us patience and strength.
God can even use pain and tragedy to speak to us about the fragility and neediness of our own lives and about the restoring power of God’s love. Just as the cross did not defeat God’s purpose in Jesus, no struggle we experience can finally frustrate God’s purpose in us.
We have less control than we sometimes think over what happens to us. Because of God’s faithful and tender presence, we have more ability than we realize to allow whatever happens to become a channel of learning, healing, and growth.