We rented a video recently called “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” The main character is, of course, Alexander who is about to turn 12. Every single day seems like a bad day for him. His family thinks he’s being silly or perhaps just dramatic with his claims of having bad days, because they’ve never had a bad day. At midnight of his 12th birthday he wishes that the rest of his family could just have a bad day too… just so they can understand.
The next morning everyone sleeps in, mom’s car breaks down so everyone has to ride together in the mini-van, his sister gets a cold and almost misses her debut as Peter Pan in the 8th grade musical, his older brother fails his driving test (after being suspended for breaking school property) and essentially ruins the minivan, Dad has a job interview and has to take the toddler with him and, before it’s all done, the toddler has a green face from a marker and Dad’s shirt has caught fire, Mom, a part of a publishing firm ends up with a misprint that no longer suggests that children jump in the pool but rather “dump” in the pool, and there’s an alligator in the house when they all get home. Even Dad, the eternal optimist, agrees that this has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. In the midst of everything, when everyone is complaining and arguing, and blaming each other, Alexander interrupts and says: “Some days are just bad. You just can’t fix them. I think you’ve got to have the bad days, so you can love the good days even more.”
It reminds me of a guy in the Bible named, not Alexander, but rather Job. He’s not 12, but rather grown with 10 grown children to boot. The Bible says he has 500 pair of oxen (I’m sure that’s like owning 500 pieces of farm equipment today, so you KNOW he was rich!), 500 donkeys and 3,000 camels (which is quite a fleet of transportation!), 7,000 sheep, and “a vast number of servants.” The Bible says that he was greater than all the people of the east where he lived in the land of Uz.
But after God and Satan have a conversation where Satan is convinced he could tempt Job to turn his back on God, Job has one of Alexander’s kind of days. In Job 1:14-19, Job learns that the Sabeans have raided and taken all the oxen and killed the servants with them, a raging fire from the sky has burned up the sheep and the shepherds, Chaldeans took the camels and killed the servants, and a strong wind from the desert (my son thinks this one was a tornado) has demolished the house where Job’s seven sons and three daughters were staying and they are all killed.
Job’s response, according to chapter one, verse 20, was to mourn and then worship God. (It actually says he tore his clothes and shaved his head… but that was how his society expressed grief, like we often wear black when we grieve). His exact words? “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” And despite the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that he had, the Bible closes that chapter with this amazing summary: “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” —Job 1:22 (NLT)
Before I became a pastor, my pastor was Rev. David Bunnell, and he often spoke of how each of us has a tea-cup that is our heart. It can be beautiful and even ornate, but until our cup is bumped, other people really have no idea what’s in our cup… and quite often we don’t really know the contents of our own cup until our cup gets bumped.
We’re going to have those crazy bad days sometimes… how we respond reveals who we really are inside. Maybe we again need to give our hearts to Christ and ask him to create a “new heart” in us and fill us with His Holy Spirit… and “clean out our cups.”
–adapted from my Pastor’s article in the monthly newsletter of the Clarks Mills United Methodist Church, April 2015.