We all have them, and the worst is that they don’t always announce themselves. I mean, if you know you are going to get three teeth pulled, you anticipate a difficult day; but there are days that you get to 2pm, and wonder who did surgery without your permission – you feel like someone’s been pulling your teeth all day long. What can you do to thrive on these most difficult of days?
Jesus warned us this would happen. “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Nice, huh? I think it would be a lot easier if he’d just remove the bad days.
However, I have learned that God has a much higher perspective. Sometimes the bad days are part of something bigger.
Jesus’ words were designed to help the disciples get through the days right after his crucifixion. When he said them, they thought they were on the edge of a major win. A few days before, they had accompanied the Messiah on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Now, Jesus is preparing them for hard times ahead. Meditating on John 16, we find some things that can help us find the win at the end of a long, arduous day:
1. Bad days are temporary. Bad days are for a day or a season, but they do end.
2. Something better is on the horizon. Jesus started this passage by saying “I have told you” twice. Then he explained that the pain was necessary so that something greater could occur – He could send the Holy Spirit.
3. Isolation is part of the process. Jesus told the disciples that they would soon be scattered to their own homes. Yet, we also know that isolating, while helpful to introverts for a season, isn’t a good long-term strategy. When Jesus returned, we find the disciples congregated together (except for Thomas).
4. God is not surprised. Jesus gave the warning. He even told them that they would abandon him, and that they would be hated. He knew the storm was coming. He didn’t steer them clear of the storm, He gave them strength to endure.
5. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions. Fascinatingly, Jesus told them “None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” yet even after he pointed this out, no one thought to ask the question. Instead they focused on getting the answer to a less threatening question – “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” Sitting in their shoes, it might have been easier to get frustrated than to sit and try to learn. On bad days, we choose where we focus. Sometimes, by steering into the wind, we find the patience to ask deeper questions that will draw us closer into relationships rather than ones that will help us keep a safe distance.
By the end of Tuesday, I still wasn’t sure if I was having a bad day, or if I was experiencing the biochemical results of being…40 something. What I did learn is that even in the midst of frustration and overwhelm, we get a choice. We can choose to walk in patience, or we can act on our emotions.