The Joy of a Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
When my daughter was a child, I used to love to read to her Judith Viorst's Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. Something about the perils of a bad day in the life of little Alexander was strangely captivating and entertaining.
This week at work I had a day like Alexander's. It was one of the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days that I have had in a long time, but somehow, when I sank into my couch at the end of that long agonizing day, I knew everything would be all right. A few moments before I escaped into a deep sleep to forget the day's woes, I had read the scripture of the day that popped up on the Bible widget on my phone. The passage was from the twentieth chapter of Acts and focused on the apostle, Paul's travels.
Paul was busy man! If he were living today, some might describe him as living a life that was completely "turned up!" The verses describe Paul's journeys to several different cities, and in each city he spent his time spreading good news and encouragement. The specific details of his messages are not given, but what caught my attention is that there is no mention of him uttering a single complaint. This is pretty extraordinary when you take into consideration that while he was traveling from place to place serious attempts were made on his life, but those threats didn't stop him from moving forward with his purpose. At one point Paul talked with his companions so long and hard that one of the men in the audience named Eutychus fell asleep near an open window and subsequently toppled to his death! How did Paul react? He went to the man, hugged him and joyfully told the other men to stop crying and troubling themselves because the man's life was "yet in him." Talk about the power of positive thinking! Paul eagerly continued on his journey knowing that "chains and tribulations" awaited him, but he wasn't concerned with the fear of danger. One of the most powerful parts of the passage states that Paul's main objective was to finish his race with joy.
I'm probably more of a television/movie junkie than I should be, but that admission gives me the authority to say that joy is often a foreign concept in the media. So many of the highest rated programs and films focus on the scandals of housewives, the underside of politics, the shortcomings of everyone from pastors to pedophiles - and much of it falls under the category of "Reality TV." While these shows often inspire curiosity and shock, joy is rarely part of the equation. But I guess that's what the people want, right? Paul's life could have been a great reality show. The stories about him have every aspect of the Reality TV formula, but the best part is the dramatic twist at the end! In spite of everything, Paul was determined to enlighten the vision of everyone he encountered and most of all, finish his own race with joy.
I'm sure that I haven't seen the last of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, but like Paul, I just want to finish my race with joy. I've discovered that the only way that will be possible is if I do something that Rick Warren suggested in his best-selling book: live a purpose driven life. That simple phrase resonates deeply in my spirit on terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, especially when whispers of genocide, government shutdown, healthcare crisis, and economic despair fill the chatter in the backdrop. I've decided to make purpose my passion! If I wake up with purpose in the morning, and let purpose pep talk me throughout each day; if I give in and allow purpose to adjust my attitude and gently let me know when to hold my tongue and when to speak up, then maybe, like Paul, when I get to the end of my race, I will find that joy and peace have been my lifelong companions - even on the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.