Thoughts on Attempting to Discern, and Then to Accept, God’s Will
By Ken K. Gourdin
I posted the following thoughts on attempting to discern, and then to accept, God’s will at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion:
Should we accept God’s will to the extent that we know His will? Yeah. Is it possible to know God’s will in every circumstance in which we might find ourselves? Color me doubtful. (If we could know God’s will in every circumstance, we would be omniscient: we are not; He is. Is everything that happens in mortality in accordance with His will? No. Much of it is simply the result of living in a fallen world, of hap crappening, of man’s inhumanity to man which results from the unwise use of agency, of any of mortality’s other innumerable vicissitudes, and so forth. In the short run, might we be better off if we didn’t have to face the consequences of living in a fallen world, of hap crappening, and of man’s inhumanity to man? Yes, in the short run. Is it always easy, given the fact that we do face such consequences, to discern His larger purposes while seeing “through a glass, darkly”? Would that it were!
Then-Elder-now-President Dallin H. Oaks gave an address a number of years ago about [h]ow Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall (see https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1994/10/our-strengths-can-become-our-downfall?lang=eng, last accessed March 9, 2019). Is a special desire to know and to follow the will of God a strength? Yes. Can it become a person’s downfall? Could it lead him to “look beyond the mark”? Could it lead to him being afflicted with the sort of paralysis that can result from refusing to take almost any action unless and until he feels that the Lord has ratified his course? Could it lead to him claiming special knowledge not available to the rest of humanity and, as a result, to him looking down his nose (whether he admits he’s doing so or not) at the rest of humanity? (“Poor suckers! If they only knew what I know!” [Name of apostate who has already had his fifteen minutes of infamy removed], is that you?) Yes, on all counts.
I’ve written ad nauseam here about my own struggles. Two failed operations in a span of eight months, each of which was followed by a month and a half with my lower body completely immobilized in plaster, which then was followed by months of painful, grueling, and ultimately fruitless physical therapy; finally finding a surgeon who dared to try something different; three more operations within a span of about 18 months, each of which could have led to a similar post-operative course as the first two, but, which, thankfully, did not. Was it God’s will that those first two operations fail so miserably? I don’t think so. (Hap crappens!) But I’m as sure as I can possibly be, absent a personal visitation from a messenger telling me so, that it was His will that the latter three operations succeed. Why only the latter three and not the first two? Perhaps it simply boils down to my being willing to give Him credit where I think it is due in the latter three instances, while (largely, at least, though I’m certainly not perfect in this regard even now), being willing to forego trying to assign blame in the first two instances. (Hap crappens!)
And then there’s my Gigantic Law School Misadventure: https://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/law-school-wrong-road/ Would I be better off if I hadn’t gotten a law degree? Aren’t instances in which we earnestly seek, and seek to follow, God’s will, supposed to result in “happily-ever-after” endings? I never got the “happily-ever-after” ending to my law school story, though perhaps it’s still being written. Perhaps many of the “happily-ever-after” endings don’t come until after mortality. Perhaps that’s true of my law school story. I don’t know.