On my drive home from work, I’m usually thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner, or what needs to get accomplished that night, or better yet, I allow my mind to drift in the blissful quiet of the car before the business of the night begins. But on one particular night a couple of weeks ago, my mind was troubled as I packed my bags into the car, fumbled around for my sunglasses and got out of the humid air and into my sweltering car. Just moments before I had been taking the elevator down and was joined by a man from the seventh floor who I greeted with a fleeting smile driven far more by habit than politeness. In a casual attempt to fill seven floors-worth of impending silence, he glanced over and asked, “How was your day?”
For a brief moment, I considered responding with the “correct” response: “Pretty good, how was yours?” So easy to say, it’s almost automatic. The same way we’re programed to follow up a classic, “How are you?” with a “Good, how are you?” But I didn’t, in fact I was in such a foul mood that I responded with a sigh and a “Actually, pretty sh**ty.” That’s right, broke out the word that rhymes with pity, as in it’s pretty pitiful that that was my answer. My cheeks reddened the moment I said it, because as honest as my response was in relation to how I was feeling, it wasn’t the “correct” one in any way. My fellow passenger who clearly got more than he bargained for looked surprised albeit sympathetic and replied with “We’ve all been there.”
And what he said rings true, we’ve all had really bad days. The ones where you come home and think, “today was just _____” start to finish. (I’ll let you all fill in that blank in hopes that you can do better than that word that rhymes with pity.) But as I sat in the car that afternoon on the way home from work, I reflected on the day that moments ago I had portrayed as just plain, old awful. What was so bad about that day? Fresh in my mind during those elevator pleasantries gone wrong was the project I had been working on right before I left the office. It was hard. I didn’t want to do it. I knew I’d have to work on it again tomorrow. So the project that took up two to three hours of my day had me treating the whole day as a wash. And what was so horrible about the project? It was harder than I wanted it to be. Something challenging and outside of my comfort zone had me throwing in the towel.
I had completely forgotten how good it had felt to finally figure out the project that I had worked on in the morning, how easily everything fell into place. I had not allowed my coworker’s offers to help me the next day pierce through the barrier of my foul mood. As I retraced my steps, the degree of “bad” in my day was so obviously minimal in hindsight. So why had I let a few hours taint it? Why had I let my frustrations bubble over?
Because in my mind I hadn’t had a good day. A good day is a day when everything goes your way, when you’re successful in everything you do, right? Except God didn’t give us example after example of his people having “good days” in the Bible. In fact, instead of saying, “Have a good day!” God tells us to prepare for our day as if we are preparing for war.
In this sinful world, “bad days” have been and always will be a normal occurrence. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, Satan worms his way into our lives and if our armor isn’t strapped on tight or has sat abandoned for a time, sin strikes us like a blow to the gut. God doesn’t allow Satan to challenge us to a fight because he wants us to have “bad days” or because he wants to see us lose. God allows us to face challenges because time and again we have to learn to look past ourselves to Him.
My weakness as a sinner brought me to me knees on that “bad” day. It also lead me to realize that good days aren’t reserved just for days filled with happiness and comfort and ease. Every day that I’m shown my sin and my desperate need for a Savior is truly a good day. Every day that my children come home after a “bad day” is actually a great opportunity for me to help point them to Jesus. No matter what battle they’re going through or I’m going through or you’re going through, Jesus has already won the war. He’s won for us a place in Heaven when we leave this world. And with that knowledge, no matter what life might throw at you once you walk out the door, you can be assured that it’ll be a good day.
I pray that one day soon, my elevator might just stop on the seventh floor and that I can talk with the same friendly man I met last week about the great day we both had.