I recently had a bad day, and I don’t know why.
On paper, nothing bad happened. I actually had plenty of free time to rest, to read, and to enjoy time alone. I went to see a movie, bought myself a cup of coffee and a donut, and drove through the rain while listening to some of my favorite songs. Externally, everything appeared to be great.
Internally, however, I didn’t feel great. I was quick to judgment, quick to frustration, quick to self pity. I spent some time in Bible study and in prayer, but I still felt off. I began to begrudge service to others. I wanted to run away and escape the responsibilities that appeared to press upon me so heavily. I wanted to avoid people yet also wanted people to validate my work. I felt a lot of feelings, and I couldn’t understand why that day was so full of self-centered thoughts. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to shake the funk.
Bad days possess the ability to strip away any pride from your life. As I began to deal with these thoughts and feelings, I saw my selfishness anew. I felt as if my bad habits and sinful desires all decided to throw a fit at once, and I felt ashamed. Even when I attempted to rest, I shifted quickly from self-care to selfishness. I knew, along with the Apostle, that “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18). I grew discouraged.
At this point, I did two things I need to do more often: I read from faithful followers of Christ who have gone before me, and I wrote in my journal. A few pages from Andrew Murray concerning abiding in Christ and a couple of my own pages penned to process my thoughts reminded me of truth. I remembered that God, in spite of our changing moods and fluctuating degrees of faithfulness, remains ever faithful. Though we grow weary and weak, God never tires, never needs time away, never forsakes or flees. Though we feel unable to control even our own thoughts and emotions at times, God still is sovereign over all things. “If we are faithless,” Paul wrote, “he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
As I set my eyes on things above rather than on things below, I began to gain perspective that I lacked in my overly-introspective moments. I began to see bad days not simply as obstacles I had to endure to get back to the good days but as opportunities for personal growth, for service to others, and for glorifying God. Though I didn’t like seeing the extent of my weakness, such a view served to highlight my need for God’s strength and to remind me of his faithfulness to supply all that is needed (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Though my flesh sought the path of self-pity, focusing on and highlighting all of my unmet desires, a bit of thought reminded me that only God satisfies, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Though I didn’t ask for that bad day, I praise God for his ability to work it for good and for his glory (Romans 8:28).
The next time you have a bad day, be it from an external circumstance or from an internal funk, look up to the Ancient of Days and gain perspective. See your temporal circumstances in light of eternity and trust his good purposes in the present moment. And hope in the God who will not put to shame those who wait for him.
For a similar post on the subject of faith and feeling, see here.