Bad Days. We all have them. They are the days we wish we could just skip and go on to the next one. Maybe the day after will be brighter than this one. Or, unfortunately, maybe even worse. We pause to wonder, Could there be any Good News when we have one of those days?
Before we seriously look into this question, consider the lighter side of the situation. There are a lot of humorous lines about having bad days and here are just some which tickle my funny bone:
You know you’re having a bad day when…
your twin sibling forgets your birthday.
you call suicide prevention and they put you on hold.
you have an appointment in 15 minutes and you just woke up.
your horn sticks on the freeway behind 32 Hell’s Angels motorcyclists.
your birthday cake collapses due to the weight of the candles.
people send your wife sympathy cards on your anniversary.
your pacemaker only has a thirty day guarantee.
everyone loves your driver’s license picture.
your boss tells you not to take off your coat.
you have to hitchhike to the bank to make your car payment.
Can bad days get any worse? When one thing goes wrong, we can almost expect something else will, too. We might hope not but consider this predicament:
A young paratrooper was learning to jump. He was given the following instruction: First, jump when your are told, second, count ten and pull the ripcord, third, in the very unlikely event that it doesn’t open, pull the second chute open, and fourth, when you get down, a truck will take you back to the base.
The plane ascended up to the proper height, the men started peeling out, and the young paratrooper jumped when told. He counted to ten and pulled the cord, but the chute failed to open. He proceeded to the back-up plan: he pulled the cord of the second chute. It, too, failed to open. “I suppose,” he complained to himself, “the truck won’t be there either when I get down.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking).
This scene reminds me of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” This old adage rings familiar on those bad days. In fact, we often quote these words when things do go awry.
So what do we do? What CAN we do? Again, we go back to the question: Could there be any Good News when we have one of those days?
For Christians, the answer is “yes.” It’s “yes” because of one person who makes all the difference—Jesus Christ. If Jesus isn’t the reason for answering in the affirmative, then he wouldn’t be “the way, the truth, and the life” he claimed to be (John 14:6).
When Jesus spoke these words to his followers, he was providing comfort to them (John 14:1-6). He could see what was eating at them. They were mulling Jesus’ remark that he was going to leave them. What’s worse, he told them they could not go where he was going (John 13:33). They were troubled.
The Greek word for “troubled” means they were emotionally agitated, disturbed, affected with great pain and sorrow, (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). How’s that for a bad day? I mean, they were close to their Master. They left everything to follow him in pursuit of a dream that one day he, the Messiah, the Anointed One, would deliver Israel and save them as the prophets foretold. They would even rule along with him. But, now, he lowered the boom on them: He said he was going to go away and they couldn’t even go with him. What a let down! When told the news, we can imagine they were feeling that their beloved leader was abandoning them. Some may have felt depressed, others angry. Maybe many of them even began questioning why they ever joined him in the first place.
As Christians, we might feel that Jesus is abandoning us, too, when things aren’t going our way. We are facing a crisis. We are deeply troubled. We wrestle with our own emotions. There seems to be no way out. And we are tempted to ask, “Where is he? Why doesn’t he seem to be coming to my rescue? What’s he doing? Has he left me?”
Then, we go to John 14 and remember what he told his troubled and confused disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going,” (John 14:1-4, New International Version, NIV).
Even in the midst of bad news there is Good News according to Jesus’ words. First, you see him encouraging his disciples to believe both in God and himself. Going by the Greek meaning, the word for “believe” includes absolute trust by having faith. It’s been said, “faith gives us the courage to face the present with confidence, and the future with expectancy.” I recall another saying that goes, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.”
Hebrews 11 is about many of the faithful of old who believed God. And I can guarantee you that every one of them had bad days. In fact, what we often think is a bad day for us is like a picnic on a beautiful day compared to their bad days:
“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:35b-40)
I would like you to notice something extraordinary in this text that has something to do about believing and trusting in God through faith. All of these “witnesses” were looking for a “better resurrection.” In other words, they dealt with the worst days of their lives by anticipating the resurrection to eternal life to come. In spite of their loss, their pain, and their grief, they all believed that God has something better planned for them, beyond this mortal life to the life all believers will receive in the Age to come.
So, we read in the following chapter, Hebrews 12:1-3,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
With Jesus as our primary example, we do not need to grow weary or lose heart whenever we have one of those days. Jesus, himself, had a “bad day” as we all know yet he endured it “for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2). What could that joy be? It was the gladness of knowing that God would raise him from the dead, that he would ascend to heaven to be at the right hand of his Father’s throne, and his eventual return to earth to rule in power and glory. I also think that part of the joy was looking forward to the people he would save from eternal death on that Great Day.
With that in mind, go back to John 14 1-4. Indeed, Jesus said he was going to away. But while away, he would prepare a place for his followers. The place, he said, has “many rooms.” A lot of people do not understand what he really meant. The King James Version, for example, uses “mansions” instead of “rooms.” So they imagine literal mansions in heaven that souls go to when they die. But Jesus says nothing about death neither does he refer to anyone going up to heaven at all, except himself. If he is talking about going to heaven at death, then why did he say, “Where I am going you cannot come?” (John 13:33; see also Luke 12:22-48; John 16:10; Acts 1:11.)
The “many rooms” to which Jesus refers means, “to make one’s abode” and is used metaphorically for God and his Son having their influence on believers through God’s Power received through Christ dwelling in them. This is taken in context with “in my Father’s house.” Rather than a literal house, Jesus is referring to “household,” or family. When we accept God’s salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ, they make their abode or dwelling in us. We become a part of his household, or family by faith (note John 14:23).
The place Jesus is preparing is a place in God’s household as we look for his appearing. He is making his abode in the family of believers preparing for the time they meet him in the air, and they co-rule with him in his glorious Kingdom on earth, “for I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Positions of honor and glory await those who are found faithful in him (Matt. 25:23; Rev. 1:6-7). Jesus is coming again to save and reward all those who have entered into the family of God (Heb. 9:28; 1 Thess. 4:16-18).
On a bad day, these are comforting promises which carry us through our difficulties no matter how great or small. Jesus was quick to point this out when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me,” (v. 6). Jesus is the new and living way for he provides assurance and hope (Heb. 10:19-25) when everything seems to go wrong. He is the truth in whom we can stand fast amidst the storms of life (Eph. 6:14). (Someone has counted that in the Good News Bible, Jesus said, “I am telling you the truth,” 26 times in the Gospel of John.) And Jesus is the life for he gives us peace when we’re restless and stressed (Matt. 11:28-29; John 14:27); joy when we’re sad (John 15:11; 17:13); and love when we feel rejected (John 15:7-10). Whenever we call on God through Jesus’ name, we can face any bad day knowing he is always there to guide us through it (John 15:7; Philippians 4:6-7). The comment is made that if your burdens seem great, remember this: “Daily prayers lessen daily cares.” It’s good advice for one of those bad days.
Here’s MercyMe singing, “Even If,” (Official Lyric Video) http://youtu.be/B6fA35Ved-Y
This is the stirring testimony of singer, songwriter Bart Millard which inspired the song: “How ‘Even If’ started out as a bad day.” http://youtu.be/E3wH_srDZ8k
Good News to YOU!