“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” ― Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Life can be achingly difficult. There are peaks and valleys and sometimes you are in the middle where things are not getting better, but they are not getting worse either. And then the unthinkable happens. And you are wondering if you have out-Alexandered Alexander.
In the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander is not having a great day. He has to endure gum in his hair and lima beans for dinner. At school, “guess whose mother forgot to put in dessert?” After school “my mom took us all to the dentist and Dr. Fields found a cavity just in me,” and there is worse to come. It’s no wonder the kid’s ready to move to Australia, but in the end, “My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.”
Now the Alexander book is fiction while our struggles are real. The plans, the script we have laid out for our life often changes. Some of our days are caused by our own poor choices, other bad days are caused by other people. And some of our bad days are triggered by bad news or difficult circumstances which are completely out of our control. Whatever the cause, our faith and trust in God is being tested and defined. God offers us the key to facing the unthinkable.
If I’m Alexander, my first step is to remember what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10: “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In my weakest, I have His strength. When I stop relying on me….and begin to trust Him…I”m at my strongest.
But sometimes everything just goes wrong and we can’t seem to make it right again. What then? What’s the answer? There isn’t one. There is often no satisfactory answer to the question why. What we can answer is how. How do I move forward? How do I live? Remember that you are loved and cherished, no matter what has happened to you. Whether you can feel it or not, God is holding you and loving you. There is no promise that everything will be made right. Only that you will be loved and held. It’s not an answer. But it is a promise.
The fact is that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day he had won’t matter when we spend all of eternity with Jesus Christ.
- How do you respond when you have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Why?
- What can we do to trust God on those bad days?