A few days ago one of the blogging pastors I follow wrote this post on the topic of God's will. In it he questions the belief of some Christians that God always has specific intentions for the decisions we make in our earthly lives and that if we are listening closely enough to Him it is possible for us to know those intentions. Rather than trying to quote from the article, I encourage you to read the whole thing. It is not only wise, but it is comforting. It lifts the burden of discerning and making the "right" decision, reminding the reader that God's eternal plan goes way beyond our day to day existence. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Whether we take this job or that one, marry this person or that one, go to this school or that one, if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, He will bless.
I think a logical extension of this point is equally comforting. Not only should we not assume that God has specific intentions for every decision we make, but we should also not assume that the things that happen to us are necessarily His will. Once when my husband and I were going through a puzzling and difficult time I was told, "This is what God wants for you right now." The words came from a friend and were intended to offer comfort, but they didn't. So much about what was happening seemed wrong. How could it be God's will? At about the same time a different friend told my husband, "Expect blessing." What Gospel comfort that was to our troubled hearts! "Expect blessing!" There's no way to know whether the things that happen are God's will. There's no way to discern without a doubt what God wants us to do (if He even has a preference). But what we can know, because it is written throughout scripture, is that God blesses His children.
From Pastor Surburg (I guess I'm going to quote after all):
God's great "Yes!" to us in Christ gives us the assurance that God works for our good and that our decisions can't get in the way of God carrying out his will. It is comforting to know that our bumbling can't prevent God from doing what He wants to get done. We needlessly torment ourselves if we worry about figuring out what God’s will is on these kinds of specific life decisions. We can’t know it. What we do know is the love God has revealed in Christ, and this guarantees that God is working for our good. So pray, “Thy will be done.” So make the best decision you can. And then walk in faith, knowing that God will work out His purpose.