Sometimes, you are better off just staying in bed. I recently received the following prayer request:
“Rev. Larry… it has been a BEAR of a day to be sure! I recently received a ticket for an expired inspection sticker. Unfortunately, in the midst of other problems, losing my job, divorce and being forced to move… I totally forgot about it! Yesterday, I received a notice that my license had been suspended! So, I promptly went down to the courthouse to pay the fine and was on my way to DMV. A police officer pulled me over because I was driving with an expired license plate. I told him where I’d been and where I was headed. He said he’d have to check on it. He came back and told me he was sorry but he was going to have to give me another ticket and he was being nice not to take me to JAIL! He asked if I knew anyone to call who would come and pick me up because I could not drive away.”
“Larry, I told him that I didn’t know anyone because I was new to the area. He said to think about it while he was writing the ticket. (As if a friend would materialize out of nowhere because I got stopped!) So I sat there and thought about it. After writing the ticket, he asked if I had thought of anyone to call, and I explained to him for the fourth time about my divorce, being forced to move and that I didn’t have anyone’s number in the area. He said, “Too Bad, I can’t take you. So… Good Luck” and drove away while it was raining! Thankfully, a nice lady offered a ride. What a day! Larry… please pray for me!”
(Note: I checked with several police officer friends who made it very clear that this was not normal procedure. None of them would have abandoned her under any circumstance excluding emergency.)
Have you ever had days, months or even years, that start bad… and then get worse? Where your problems don’t just add up… they multiply? When you think you’ve finally reached the floor of your difficulties only to discover a basement of woe? Of course you have! Me too. It’s hard to avoid.
So, the questions is… How can God help us deal with those inevitable, really bad days?
The Apostle Peter wrote a letter to several churches feeling the harsh sting of persecution. Overwhelmed and devastated this struggling Christian community was pleading for help. In other words… they were dealing with some really bad days. What could Peter write to ease their suffering… to provide hope in the midst of suffering? The answer may surprise you.
“Be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Be truly glad while enduring a really bad day? Are you crazy? Maybe… but I found four crucial lessons that offer enduring hope:
1. Really bad days… must be endured but there is a promise of joy ahead.
2. Really bad days… strengthen your faith just as fire purifies gold.
3. Really bad days… in God’s eyes produce a tested faith that is more precious than gold.
4. Really bad days… will bring you much praise and glory and honor in heaven.
How many honors we receive: our accomplishments, our financial rewards, our years of service don’t seem to matter near as much to God as a tested faith strengthened and purified by our pain and struggle. In other words, how each of us learns to cope with really bad days often shapes our outlook on life and defines our relationship with God. How we overcome really bad days represents our witness to the outside world.
Is it easy? Of course not! Which is why you and I need to continually pursue a deeper relationship with God. The comfort is that in the end, the really bad days will all be forgotten as we bask in the praise and glory and honor of heaven. That’s enough to get me out of bed in the morning… how about you?