As a kid, there was always one surefire way to get Mom to expand my bedtime: ask her to read another story. It was such a great feeling, thinking I was getting away with murder, as Mom pulled out yet another picture book. One of those books has a title I think we can all relate to from time to time: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. For those who haven’t read it, don’t worry, the story is pretty much given in the title. Alexander tells us about one of those days where everything seems to go absolutely and totally wrong. Sometimes, no matter how much we prepare or no matter how hard we try, we all have our own version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. So is there anything we can do to make it better? Well, the truth is, there are no bad days in the kingdom of God. Before I explain why this is so, let me take you through one of these days of my own.
The morning started out with Pa and I needing to haul out some of the junk that had piled up around the farm. Nothing too crazy, just moving things from one place to another place. Then, little setbacks follow other little setbacks, each one introducing frustration and discomfort into my mindset. First, the junk was covered in several thick layers of sand, making it incredibly difficult to get anything off the ground. Pa was on one end while I was at the other, as we struggled to tilt the junk high enough to let the dirt slide off. We ended up on our knees, scooping the sand off with our hands. Okay, a little physical labor. No big deal.
Then, in a moment of “pure genius,” I put myself downwind as we picked up a piece of scrap metal. Those thick layers of sand flew into my face and eyes. Okay, that was uncomfortable, and I was definitely going to need a shower, but it only happened because I was acting stupid. Shake it off and move on.
All of the sudden, for no apparent reason, I started to see spots and feel lightheaded. Okay, I got some water and took things slow for a few minutes. Then, I was feeling a little bit better. It was time to get back to work.
To top it off, as I bent over to take apart some wood for the scrap pile, my lip started to burn. I looked around, and there were fire ants everywhere. How in the world did a fire ant end up on my face?!? Apparently, that wasn’t enough, because yet another fleck of dirt flew into my eye. I was standing there as one hand poured water on my lip, trying to get the burning to stop, while the other hand dabbed at my eye, trying to dislodge the stuck piece of dust. Okay, I was done. How close were we to lunch?
It was only 11. Dang it.
Now this wasn’t a day full of pain and suffering. In fact, Pa’s experiences that morning were far worse than mine. But bad days aren’t always where all of these truly horrible moments of suffering occur. It’s often when many little things pile up to the point where we are constantly unhappy and uncomfortable and counting the minutes until lunch. These are the times where we are reminded of how completely and utterly out of control we are. Isn’t that what defines our “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days? When life isn’t going the way we want it to go? I am sorry to say, but God isn’t asking for our ideas and suggestions. We can’t control how the day is going to go.
Instead of focusing on all the things we can’t control, let’s shift our mindset to who does control everything. Since God created everything and has determined what goes into each one of His days from the beginning until the end of time, what does He have to say? Here’re some Scriptures that come to mind:
- Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that He has made, and behold, it was very good.”
- All those things we call terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad, God said is actually very good. Who are we to argue with what God has said about His own creation?
- Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose.”
- God doesn’t allow uncomfortable things to happen to us because He is mean and likes to watch us suffer, but because that discomfort trains us for our overall purpose in the kingdom of God. We need to have the faith and patience to let God use those uncomfortable things to teach us. And we don’t need to know what that big plan is, just that it is good.
- Finally, God gives us directions on how to treat each and every day. Psalms 118:24 says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
- Say that verse out loud whenever you are struggling. That was what ended up saving me that day doing spring cleaning on the farm. Once I said Psalms 118:24 out loud, my mindset completely changed. I was no longer counting down the minutes until quitting time. Instead, I was able to enjoy the day and enjoy the people around me. It wasn’t that the job changed after lunch, or that the ants decided to stop biting me, but I changed. You may not believe me when I claim that saying one sentence out loud will magically transform how your day is going, but from one doubter to another, trust me when I say it will change your life.
In addition to changing our mindsets, it’s also important to not be stupid and learn from our mistakes. It’s not okay to say, “Well, God is in control, so I don’t have to do anything.” If you have dirt blowing in your eyes, the next time you are outside on a windy day, wear some sunglasses. And if somehow you get bit on the lip by a fire ant, invest in some ant poison and keep it in your vehicle. Don’t be a glutton for punishment.
So as it turns out, in the kingdom of God, there are no “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days. God didn’t create any of those. Our choice is to believe that this is the day that the Lord hath made and to rejoice and be glad in it.
— Written by Erin
(The picture shows Erin and Michaela showing some preteen attitude after a long day in the sun.)
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