How Does God Lead Us by J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
I am interested very much in the questions you ask and in what you say also regarding the subject of divine leading. I think the better way would be for me sometime soon to preach a sermon which will practically answer your questions or, at least, try to answer them. I am very well aware of the difficulty which troubles you. It is not easy for us in every case to know what Christ’s will is. It is easy to understand it in matters of morality, where a thing is either right or wrong, and where the divine teaching is plain. But in reference to daily guidance in the circumstances and experiences of life — it is often difficult to know what the will of the Lord is. It will do me good to write upon the subject — and I think it will do more people than you good, to have it talked about.
Let me say in general that our own judgment, after careful thought and prayer, is often the only guidance that God gives us. We are not by any means to think that anything is not a duty, just because it is difficult. Often God puts hindrances in our way, just to make us brave and to teach us to be courageous and strong.
Indeed, the purpose of trials, on the divine side — is to be a sort of athletic exercise for us, to develop our abilities, and discipline us into strength. Very much of what people complacently think virtue and piety in themselves, and much they call “resignation to God’s will” is only mental or spiritual indolence and is by no means commendable. We are to submit to inconveniences and difficulties, only when we cannot overcome them. You will notice in the prayer it is not “May Your will be endured” or “submitted to,” but “Your will be done.” It is the active doing of the will of God, which is involved in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer. A great many people get in the habit of thinking of it always as implying something in the way of suffering or sacrifice or loss. This is entirely a wrong view of it. No doubt we have to submit sometimes to suffering and loss and deprivation — but these are the exceptions and not the rule.
I am sure that you have been right in your interpretation of the will of God. We are always to make the very most we can of our lives. With regard to the particular matter in your present condition — your subordination to a person who is not congenial and under whom you do not seem to be able to do your best work, I can only say that whatever is inevitable, unavoidable, and cannot be changed — we are to accept as God’s will for us for the time. It certainly does not mean, however, that we are not to seek release from the uncongenial and unpleasant environment. Perhaps some way will open for it soon. In such cases, we have to be careful that we do no harm ourselves in seeking to right the wrong under which we are suffering. You remember what Peter says about suffering wrongfully, referring to Christ’s own example; “When he was reviled, he reviled not again. When he suffered, he threatened not — but committed himself to him who judges righteously.” He also speaks of committing ourselves to God in well doing, that we may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. What I want to say is that while we have a right to do all we can to change disagreeable or uncongenial conditions in our life — we must be careful that we maintain as far as we can the Christlike spirit, keeping love in our hearts all the while, and doing nothing which in any way would grieve the Master.
But here I am, giving you my sermon now, before it is written. I shall take the matter up sometime before a great while. I am always glad to help you in any and every possible way.