Today was hard. Musa and I came home from church too exhausted to say much of anything to one another. Meanwhile, Lincoln was just getting his second wind after his relaxing Sunday afternoon nap on the ride home.
"What does the gospel say about hard days?" I asked my husband as we sat motionless on our couch watching Lincoln destroy our living room. Surely, there is some Biblical truth relevant for the moment that, if understood, will make this moment more bearable, I think to myself.
Musa gives me a facial expression that lets me know he's too tired to think rationally.
The hard thing about hard days is that they come unexpected. If I knew tomorrow would be particularly draining, or emotionally taxing the night before, I could prepare - spend some extra time in Scripture maybe, get a good night's sleep, call in reinforcements. But they come without warning. Out the clear blue sky.
One moment I'm fine, and the next moment I'm that mother in Target - you know, the one trying to console her kid who is screaming bloody murder because she just pried a sampler Yankee candle from his hand precious moments before walking through the security detectors. (The worst part is the looks from those who have never so much as babysat a child in their. entire. life.)
Is the gospel not for practical moments like these? Is it only for Sunday morning worship experiences with hands lifted high (when my kid is in nursery and my eyes are closed so I can't see them paging us even if they are?) Is my hope built on nothing less when skies are blue and gray? Is there any redemption for the days when I have to talk myself out of bed? When I have a horrible attitude with life? When I don't feel like cooking dinner, or folding one more load of laundry, or even thinking positive because I actually want to pity myself?
If my faith does not stand on hard days, how can I?
Thankfully, I'm not without hope. God didn't leave me to thug it out on hard days by myself. Today I was reminded of three truths about bad days, that did make it a little easier to endure:
1. Bad days come for us all - no exceptions.
Oh what a comfort. Seriously, sometimes I feel like no one else is having it this hard. On bad days, I feel like everything in the universe is secretly conspiring against me and only me. But Jesus said plainly in His Word: "In this life you will have trouble." All of us. You. Me. Beyonce. Michelle Obama. Troubled hair, troubled kids, troubled relationships, troubled hearts, troubled homes ... all normal. Trouble is our lot because our world isn't as it should be. We're not living in paradise. We're living in, as my son's devotional says, somewhere between "Already and Not Yet." So troubled days shouldn't really be a surprise, even when they take us by surprise. Perfectly normal.
2. Trouble don't last always.
Sound cliche? It is, but it also just happens to be true. "Weeping may endure for night, but joy comes in the morning." I always took that verse to literally mean that if you go to sleep sad or angry, most times you wake up feeling better in the morning, and practically speaking, that is the case most (of course, not all) of the time. But I think the more accurate interpretation is that trouble comes for a season. It has an expiration date. The end destination is worth all the trouble we're enduring. In fact, in comparison, it won't seem like trouble at all.
3. Bad days reveal us.
As much as I hate bad days and trouble in general, how I handle them both, reveals a lot about my character and the specific areas where I need to grow. Today, for example, I got hot and cranky and impatient. I was uncomfortable, and I allowed myself to focus more on my circumstances than on the good of others around me (that's called selfishness, by the way.)
I hate bad days, but as it turns out, they're really good teachers of very hard lessons.