At least in my experience, God’s will has not always been easy to discern, even with the assistance of prayer and spiritual direction. Sure, I know the boundaries of moral decision-making. Under no circumstances may I lawfully choose to do evil.
Further, I must fulfill the duties and obligations that go with my state in life. But what exactly does God want me to do? The answer usually isn’t black and white. We make what seems to us to be the right choice, and pray that God will bless our sincere desire to do His will and that He will continue to make His will for us known with ever greater clarity.
For this reason, I think that one of the most remarkable verses in all of Scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, in which Saint Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [more]
So while we might struggle in discerning our vocation in life, whether to take a certain job, or even how to spend our next vacation, when it comes to giving thanks–in other words, manifesting the virtue of gratitude–God’s will is right there in Scripture for all to see. There’s absolutely no mystery or guesswork about it. God explicitly wills that we give thanks in all circumstances.
The truth is that everything in our lives, even the tragedies, failures, inconveniences, and sufferings, are part of God’s plan. He doesn’t make mistakes. Everything in our lives affords us an opportunity to grow in the love of God. Of course, when seemingly bad things happen to us, our first response may not be an expression of gratitude, and even if it is, it may be dripping with sarcasm: “Gee, thanks a lot.”
But make no mistake, God wills that we develop the virtue of gratitude–at least if we want to be happy in this world and, even more, in the next. The Eucharist, as the supreme sacrifice of thanksgiving (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1359-60), continually opens us more fully to God’s superabundant gifts.
In this spirit, I wish all our readers a most blessed Thanksgiving holiday.