Turning around a bad day

Published 3:40 pm Friday, February 2, 2018

We have all had some days that we would label as bad.  Bad because of accidents, mishaps, breakdowns, sicknesses—it is a list that seems to have no end.  I am grateful that I have had far more good days than bad, yet I experience snags along the way from time to time.  In those moments when frustration or even heartache seem to be the rule of the day, we are faced with a choice:  do we allow the difficulty to determine our outlook, or do we look for ways to turn the bad day around and find good in it?

As I look back over the decades, I realize that there has been some wasted time along the path of my life simply because I allowed some mishap or other anomaly to hide the joy and gratitude that should outshine the hardship.  At times, I suppose I have allowed even what should have been a simple matter that deserved little attention to become inflated in magnitude so that it consumed far more attention than it deserved.  I doubt that I am the only person to be guilty of such.

Many years ago we lived in an old rental house in northeastern North Carolina.  One afternoon an electrical storm came up, leaving one circuit of the house without power.   I am no electrician, but I know enough to check the breaker box for tripped breakers—or fuse box for blown fuses as in this case.  After taking a look, I was bewildered to find that everything was fine in the fuse box.  We were scheduled to go out with some friends that evening, but I opted to cancel our plans because of the electrical problem.  I do not know how my denying my wife of a night out for supper was supposed to correct the problem; I just allowed something that I could not do anything about to spoil a good day.  (As it turned out, I finally resorted to getting an electrician to come.  I suppose he had been to that house before; within minutes he went to a separate fuse box in a closet, replaced a fuse, charged me fifty dollars to replace a thirty cent fuse, and went on his way!  Now that really made a bad day!!)

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It has been said that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Sounds simple, but for most of us we get so involved in frowning about the sour lemons that we fail to try to make something more palatable out of it.  There is an example in Scripture, however, that offers some insight into turning around a bad day and bringing good out of it.

In Acts 16, the Bible records the account of two men, Paul and Silas, who were thrown in prison for doing the work of God:  “After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks”  (Acts 16:23-24, New International Version).  Their circumstances were far more severe than my blown fuse and their response to what they faced was far better than mine.

Paul and Silas were having a bad day by anyone’s definition.  Besides the physical pain from the beating, the unfair treatment coupled with a huge amount of humiliation was enough to ruin anyone’s day.  Interestingly, they dealt with it in a most unnatural way:  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (verse 25).  What a wonderful way to turn around a bad day.

Among the things that we can learn from this account is the power of refusing to allow circumstances, even unfair ones, to take away the joy that God puts in our hearts.  A bad day can be turned around by acknowledging that God is worthy to be praised no matter what.