It can only be understood in the light of faith. And that faith is a free gift from God. All it requires of us is our openness to receive it. It is in the mystery of this faith that we find our joy.
What is God’s will for us? Paul gives us a fairly concise and clear answer to that question here in this passage. He wants us all to know the gift and the freedom of the joy that comes to us from knowing him. He wants to always be in personal conversation with us in our prayer lives. He wants us to see so clearly that all the good things of this life, all the help we have received, all the burdens that have been lifted from us, all the healing, and all the mercies that we have experienced in our lives, are the result of his love and his grace for us. Because of this insight, this gift of our faith, our hearts will naturally and spontaneously respond with humble thanksgiving. These are the things he wills for us.
Who am I to deserve such gracious things? Next to the glory of God, I am nothing. Why should he will such glorious things for me? Well, that is the mystery that our faith challenges us with every day. That “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16) is beyond our ken. It is beyond all of our philosophies. It can only be understood in the light of faith. And that faith is a free gift from God. All it requires of us is our openness to receive it. It is in the mystery of this faith that we find our joy. Though as the world goes, in our ordinariness, in our anonymity, God still looked upon each one of us from the cross with an infinite love and forgave us our sins. Not only that, but he forgets them and does not hold them against us. And to our utter amazement, we have come to realize that it is his will to be in a personal relationship with us. And all we have to do is turn to him willingly and humbly.
Because of all of this, we pray. We learn to take ourselves apart and to enter into the silence and the solitude of our hearts to simply be in his presence, or to listen to his counsel. We lift our hearts to him in prayer in times of trouble and distress, but also in the good times. In our practice of prayer, we learn to walk with Jesus. We carry him in our hearts wherever we go. We begin to see our fellow human beings through the eyes of Jesus. We begin to see him in the suffering other, and we are moved to serve. We begin to see him in the glory of nature and we begin to steward it with respect and care. In our prayer lives we come to know God as our Father, as our intimate friend, and as the one who breathes his grace into us in all circumstances. So we pray continually.
When we come to see these truths through the eyes of faith, we cannot help but give thanks. This undeserved generosity of God, this willing love offered to us in so many ways, cannot be responded to in any other way than humble, joyous thanksgiving. We have every reason to be thankful. God, “has loved us with an everlasting love [and] drawn us with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3) For all of this, we are overwhelmed with thanksgiving. You are our God and we are your beloved children. Thanks be to you, O God of infinite love!
Lord, increase our capacity for joy in all things. Continue to call us always into your presence through our prayer lives. For your generous, loving kindness and mercy, we give you our willing thanks. In humble praise of your holy name we pray. Amen!
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