My friend Rachael is a remarkable person. From the outside, she has a fairly typical life as a mom of four young children. But when you get to know her you sense there is much more to her than meets the eye. Her average day looks the same as most people in her situation. Get up, get the kids ready, make breakfast, do dishes, go shopping, etc. But underneath those ordinary situations, Rachael is experiencing a life that is far from ordinary. She is fighting every day to become a better mom, a happier person – to be transformed into the image of Christ.
Recently Rachael shared with me what it is that changes the ordinary to the extraordinary in her life.
“Each day when I get the kids up and start our morning I think about how the Apostle Paul had it when he was alive. He wrote to the Philippians, ‘I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.’ Philippians 4:11. This verse is currently a ‘work in progress’ in my life.
“It’s so easy for me to think that if my outward circumstances, or the situations I find myself in, were different, then it would be easier for me to be content and happy. I encounter thoughts like this many times during the day. For example; I could think, ‘If my kids listened to me better in the store, then things would be a lot easier,’ or, ‘If I had more sleep, then maybe I would be happier.’
“But Paul had a tremendous revelation from God when he wrote, ‘We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28. God has planned everything exactly for my best. Everything that happens, whether good or bad, is for my best. Even every little thing that people say to me, good or bad, God has planned it for my best. If I really believe that, then there is no way I cannot be absolutely content and happy!”
What “all things happen for good” means
“That doesn’t mean that everything happens so that life is always easy for me. It means that everything God plans is the best for His plan of salvation for me. That plan of salvation is that I grow in the virtues of Christ – for example; I grow in patience and goodness. In my everyday life, the moments that are often chaotic are when I see and believe that everything happens for my best.
“For example, when I am trying to get something around the house accomplished and the youngest is having a complete melt-down while the next youngest is tugging at my shirt, repeating themselves in an effort to get my attention, those are the moments that are planned perfectly. In those situations, I have the opportunity to see my own selfishness and lack of patience and love, and then I can pray to God to help me to grow in patience, goodness, and love. Instead of my own human reactions and tendencies, the virtues can come forth in my life. It means a battle has to take place so that the lusts of my flesh are put to death, but the result is that God’s will is done and I become more saved!
“God’s will for us is our sanctification. He wants us to be completely holy just as He is completely holy. (1 Peter 1:16) God is using all the outward situations in my life here on earth to bring me into this sanctification.”
The life of Jesus
“There is a very good verse that sums this up, in 2 Corinthians 4:10: ‘… always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.’ It is very clear to me that this verse means that I am to deny my own selfish demands about how my outward situations should be, and instead choose to be content with whatever situations I have. Then, I am literally fulfilling that verse: putting to death that which was not Christ-like (discontentment, unthankfulness, impatience), and allowing the life of Christ to become manifested in me instead (being content, thankful, patient).
“‘Carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus’ isn’t often outwardly obvious, so on the day when Jesus returns it will be very interesting to see the different people who have been faithful in this. It will be amazing to see into these people’s ‘hidden lives,’ those who have chosen to deny their selfish tendencies and instead allowed the life of Christ to be made manifest in their bodies. It is going to be truly encouraging to see how faithful people have taken it where no one can see but God.”
What a way of looking at life! Seeing all the little moments that just seem like ordinary, everyday happenings, as opportunities to be transformed from human nature to the virtues of Christ. That gives life such a deeper meaning. No wonder I have always experienced Rachael as such a content, happy, and thankful person! My conversation with her has encouraged me to have the same attitude. The evidence that taking life like this pays out is right there in Rachael’s life.