BUMMER

When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast. Job 22:29

 

It was one of those days—just like Alexander’s “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”* Everything that could have gone wrong did. All my morning plans had fallen apart. And then, in returning from the library with my grandson, we were caught in a horrendous traffic jam due to a break in the water main. We got out as quickly as we could—thirty minutes later—only to find ourselves in another jam with people escaping the first. While we waited, I got distracted and rolled into the utility truck ahead of me. (Oh, yes, we were fine and the driver and police officer were both lovely.) When all the reports were filed, and we finally got home, I discovered that I had missed an important appointment that I’d tried to schedule four months earlier. Yes, it was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” And the biggest annoyance was me.
When I was finally alone that evening and reflecting on the overload of stresses, I was still reeling from an overdose of my own stupidity. But even so, God hadn’t lost his joy, his sovereignty wasn’t affected, his love hadn’t disappeared, his presence hadn’t vanished, his mercy hadn’t failed, and his power wasn’t reduced. In fact, his grace was much more prominent in my weakness, and his reassurance brought comfort even as I remained frustrated.
With thanksgiving I rejoiced that circumstances and my humanity hadn’t confounded God. He is the same yesterday and today and forever and knows completely the dust from which I’m made. He is never surprised at my snafus or silly mistakes. In fact, he reminds me that I live in a world where all creation cries out for redemption, and bumps and “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day[s]” happen. I am to live gratefully through those times, too, knowing that “joy comes.” I am to be still…
God never has bad days.

 

Father, thank you for keeping us in days that are not our best and for staying with us as we recover from emotional roller coasters. Help us not to think too highly of ourselves and to lean more and more on you in total and absolute dependence. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is a children’s classic describing Alexander’s thoughts when his day goes amiss.

FRUSTRATION

For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12:10

 

Recently, I was with a mission team in Guatemala in the most beautiful setting of tropical flowers, mountains, lush foliage, and cool temperatures. The surroundings couldn’t have been more pleasant. In directing the team, however, I became frustrated with the tiniest of logistical matters, and my annoyance began to build. I continued throughout the evening through dinner and meeting time, but alone in my room, the self-recriminations began. “Why wasn’t I more patient? Knowing that God was in control, why hadn’t I just relaxed?” And on the criticism continued.
Suddenly, but quietly, it seemed that God assured me that he was still in charge, and my frustration only ensured that I was not. My weakness reinforced my extreme need for God at every moment of my day, especially when I thought I was in control. My flaws highlighted my dependence on God for his grace, his mercy, and his strength. With that sweet reminder, peace returned.
Back home, in hearing about our trip, a sweet friend, Bob, gave me a sonnet that spoke deeply to my spirit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
The glorious revelations you’ve bestowed,
Ineffable displays of holy light,
Call forth my joyful praise in sheer delight,
A foretaste of my heavenly abode.
Then why this ceaseless thorn, this painful goad
Of Satan? Why not spare me pain, the blight
Of persecution, malice, danger’s fright?
From what strange stream of love have nettles flowed?
“Sufficient is my grace for you: indeed,
My power is perfected when you’re weak.
Will you for your own feeble prowess please,
When bankrupt weakness brings the strength you seek?”
Now insults, hardships, weakness are my song,
My joy: for when I’m weak, then am I strong.
(D. A. Carson. Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century)
Father, thank you for your regular reminders that you’re God and that we’re not. We live and move and have our being in you. AMEN.