The day began better than most in the previous months. Really, better than most since becoming a mom to two children. Both the infant and the toddler slept (barely) past 6am, and despite several night wakings between them, I felt pretty rested and alert. Enough so to make chocolate chip pancakes, which were a hit with both girls.
The forecast had called for rain, yet it remained sunny, so my toddler and I played in the yard and the street while the baby had her morning nap. My daughter wanted to read her Bible and actually paid attention to several stories, then danced to some praise songs. Once her sister woke, we continued to capitalize on the good weather and went for a hike – and no one cried or fussed the entire time. I managed to capture several sweet moments of the girls laughing and playing together. Very little discipline or reprimands were required.
It was a great day. And I don’t share any of this to brag. Most days, I feel like all I do is put out fires. The toddler keeps taking the baby’s toys. She doesn’t come when I call. She won’t try anything I made for dinner. She’s crying about everything. The baby won’t nap. The baby won’t nurse (and also won’t take a bottle). I have to do everything with a baby on my hip and a toddler grabbing my leg. And it’s been hard living in quarantine because when it’s always raining and everyone just needs a change of scenery, we can’t do an impromptu play date, go to an indoor playground, or visit grandparents.
I felt like a great day was owed us. Like God wasn’t quite being good enough to me and he needed to do this for me. I had been dying to myself for weeks and didn’t want to anymore. If I can’t get a baby sitter and leave for a couple of hours, then I at least deserve some good weather and happy children, I thought. Instead of taking the day as a gracious gift from his Fatherly hand, I took it greedily as earned wages.
But the only wages I’ve ever deserved from God are death. Thanks be to God, though, that instead he gave me the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). And the previous verse (6:22) tells me, “but now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
All of the hard days, where I constantly feel like I’m failing (and to be honest, I’ve been failing a lot), are not lost or wasted. They are sanctifying me, preparing me for eternal life with Christ Jesus.
Yesterday was a gift from God – yet another glimpse of his mercy, which never comes to an end and is new each morning (Lam.3:22-23). And just a few verses later this chapter reminds me yet again, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”
God loves to give good gifts to his children (Matt.7:11) and a good day is a good gift. But what about the bad days, which often seem to outnumber the good ones? This makes me think of Job, who said to his wife, “shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).
It’s important for us to remember that God never wastes adversity. Paul speaks this of suffering in his letter to the Philippians: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Phil.3:10). Any earthly suffering, from grumpy children to a devastating illness, is designed to make us more like Christ.
This is how we set our mind on things above (Col.3:2), because things like the spilled milk aren’t just about the spilled milk. These moments are yet another opportunity to put on Christ and respond as he would. And we are not left helpless, trying to muster up an eternal well of patience and kindness. “Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is.41:10). What a promise!
That day was a little reprieve to strengthen me to continue running the race well. I was reminded of the excellent hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. The third verse boasts the familiar phrase, “Strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow”.
Hope is not necessarily just for another “good day”, but for his presence to cheer and to guide us regardless what lies ahead, for the battle belongs to the Lord. And it has already been won, so I can embrace the day either way.