Life’s Only Meaning
If I am as He is, how does it work out in practical life? It means a revolution in my outlook. Normally, I interpret all happenings of life in terms of their effect on myself. My physical condition, my home affairs, my business affairs, my social life–how do they affect me? What difference does this situation, this crisis, this tragedy or problem, this success, make to me? If I am a Christian, I may seek a Christian interpretation–this is for the testing of my faith, for the maturing of my walk with God: but still it is in terms of its effect on me. But we have already said that the way things affect God is the opposite: not their effect on Him, but on us. Jesus living our lives. So now with us.
The new outlook is: This has happened to me as some way by which I am to meet the need of others. As Paul says in that Second Letter to the Corinthians, in which he most fully shows what living other people’s lives means: “All things are for your sakes.”
The fact is, and the change which has taken place in us is that it is no longer a question of either my own life being for myself, or of God being for my convenience, or my salvation, or sustenance. So I practice a changed outlook. My normal human reaction will always be: Why has this happened to me? But now I say” This is for others. I move over within from my outlook to God’s. I may not in the least see how it is for others. It may be merely that my going through a tough experience with God fits me to share and show the way to others going through the same without God. Paul said he was comforted in all kinds of afflictions, so that he could share the secret of that same comfort with others in like afflictions.
The point is the habit of always relating all things that happen to me to the meeting of some needs in others. It is the difference between frustration and opportunity. If I just see things as happening to me and I don’t know why, I am frustrated. I say, “If only things were different, if I hadn’t had that difficult past or this physical disability or family problem. I could be of some use,” then I am bogged down. But if I say, “God, you have sent this for some purpose, to minister somehow through me to some people in need,” then it is opportunity. Life is then always an adventure of faith, never dull, never repetitious, always with some meaning round the corner. Let us get it in its total dimension–life’s only meaning is God and others.