Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to turn out right? When everything you try turns out in utter disaster? Like no matter how hard you worked, or how calmly you approached a task, the ending result is usually epic failure. My parents used to call them, “No good, awful, horrible, rotten days,” or something like that. Pretty sure their saying derived from a book I have vague recollections of reading, but the point was, “It was a bad day. A Really. Really. Bad. Day.”
Today is that day. It started out first thing this morning (they always do!). And as the day progressed, it was like a domino effect of ugly; one bad thing just led to another which led to another which led to another. Until at the end of the day, I was wearing my third stained outfit, resigned to the failure of a project I had devoted hours to, and cringed to sit down to write an article, fearing that it too would be a victim of my reverse Midas touch. As I walked back to my house at the end of this long day, a song popped into my head – this is not unusual for me. Songs randomly play in my head throughout the day and especially in quiet moments when it’s just me and my thoughts. But today the song that popped into my head really irked me.
“This is the day. This is the day that the Lord has made. That the Lord has made.
I will rejoice. I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad it in.”
“Wait! What?!?! What am I singing? This day stinks! Why would I rejoice in it?” I jerked back into reality. “I want to forget today, not be glad in it.” And that’s when it hit me, like a still quiet voice whispering into my heart’s ear, God said, “This is the day that I have made for you, Sarah. THIS is your cause to rejoice.”
I was humbled. He was right. This day, this no-good-awful-terrible-rotten day, this day when my failures are on display, this day where nothing seems to go the way it needs to go, this day that I just want to forget ever existed, this is the day the Lord has made. I got alone, and opened His Word to Psalm 118 where this song takes its cue, and reminded myself of these truths.
The Lord LOVES me. (Vs. 1-4)
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,” the Psalmist says. “For his steadfast love endures forever. Let those who fear the LORD say, His steadfast love endures forever.” This is an easy truth to remember when things are going my way, on those days that I feel blessed by God like He and I have this special bond where I’m secretly His favorite and He’s just lavishing gifts into my life. On those days, the love of God is never in question, I’m walking proof of it. But on those bad days, the days your lemon of a car breaks down…again, the days you lose your job with no prospect of another, the days when your brother’s car is hit by a truck and he’s forever whisked away into eternity; what about those days? What about the days when our hearts grow heavy and our faith wants to falter under the weight? Can we see the love God has for us on the terrible awful no good days? Can we fear the Lord and say, “God is GOOD! His love for me endures forever”? This is a true test of faith. Does what we know about God match up to what we believe about Him?
The Lord is FOR me. (vs. 5-7)
The Psalmist goes on to prove to us how good God is, saying, “Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.” In verses 6 & 7, it literally says, “The Lord is FOR ME!” That means that God has your back. He’s got you! He’s there to help you, not to mess with you or to throw you a curve ball and see how you can handle it. When we assign these mischievous motives to God we are denying his goodness and setting him up to be our enemy. This is a clear tactic of Satan to alienate you against the Lord; don’t fall for this trick. God is good…all the time! And his love for you is his motivation for anything that He does in your life, the good and the bad.
The Lord HELPS me. (vs. 8-17)
“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.” This section of Psalm 118 was particularly convicting to me as I read it after my no-good, rotten, awful day. I don’t know about you, but when I have one of those days, taking refuge in the Lord is not the cure I am looking for. I want to VENT…loudly! I want someone to hear my tale of woe and either laugh at my comical demise or lament with me in the fallout. Sure, during those really devastating days when my world gets rocked, God is the ONLY thing that gets me through; He’s the only One who can ease the pain breathing seems to cause. But on annoying days? Days like today? This day that the Lord has made? It’s better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man then? Yes. Even then. Especially then. Because it’s the little victories in life that make the battles easier to overcome. When you see how faithful God has been throughout all the conglomeration of nasty, horrible, and terrible days, then when those demoralizing days come, you’ve established a habit of running to Him because He helped you then and He can help you now!
The Lord TEACHES me. (v. 18)
Praise GOD for this fact! Praise the Lord He doesn’t leave us where He found us and expect us to come up to His standard of living on our own abilities. Psalm 118: 18 says, “The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.” Elsewhere in Scripture, it reiterates this truth: God chastens those whom He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19). His discipline is never arbitrary, but always for a purpose: to change us into the image of His Son (Phil. 1:6). His discipline is never masochistic, but always motivated by His great love (Revelation 3:19). He teaches us to help us. Sometimes that teaching is the form of a gentle tugging of a heart or a still small voice in your head; sometimes that teaching comes in the form of a swift kick in the pants. In any form, it’s always good because God is good all the time.
The Lord SAVES me. (vs. 19 – 23)
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Nothing speaks of God’s great love for us louder or greater or clearer than His atoning work on the cross for you and I. The love of the Lord endures forever, and we know this because He saves us through the redemptive work of the risen Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17). This is the culmination of everything God has ever done. When we were dead in our sins, in the worst state of affairs, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), for the purpose of showing his immeasurable grace toward us in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10). When we are focused on all that God has done for us in saving us, it’s difficult to look at even a really bad, no good awful day as a day we’d like to forget because it’s a day when we’re remembering the grace of God in our lives.
Today, it was just one of them days…You know? One of those no-good, awful, terrible, rotten days where I rejoice that God loves me with an enduring love, that He is powerfully FOR me in the circumstances I face, that He is my constant supporter and very present help in the time of trouble, that He teaches me through the good and bad times, and that He saves me to live life abundant and free!
“Yes. This is the day. This is the day that the Lord has made. That the Lord has made.
I will rejoice. I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad it in.”