When Everything is…Terrible!

12 Jul When Everything is…Terrible!

One of my favorite books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Poor Alexander. He is having one of those days, a day when everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. A day that goes from bad to worse. If he could, he would just leave it all behind and move to Australia. Surely things would be better in Australia.

I know just how Alexander feels. I’ve had days like that. I’ve even had weeks that seemed to be one difficult, disappointing or distressing event after another. I think most of us can empathize with Alexander. Life is hard at times. Things don’t go the way we planned, or wished they would, or expected them to go. It’s not unusual in these situations to wonder, “why me?” And that’s true even for the great Moses himself.

After Moses encountered God at the burning bush, he made up every excuse he could think of to get out of God’s call to return to Egypt. “I’m a nobody. I don’t know your name, God. Nobody is going to believe me. I’ve never been a good public speaker.” God patiently listened to each of Moses’s concerns until Moses finally blurted out the real problem: “I don’t want to go, Lord. Send somebody else!”

It is no accident that God answered Moses’s excuses not by specifically addressing the stated issue but by reassuring Moses of God’s presence and power. None of Moses’s perceived limitations were problems for God—only for Moses. The challenge was for Moses to trust God, to trust that God would equip and empower Moses for the job he was being asked to do. Moses didn’t have to have all the answers. He didn’t have to understand the whole plan. What he needed was faith.

Moses eventually got on board with God’s plan, but then when he got to Egypt, the plan appeared to fall apart! His audience with Pharaoh, requesting that the Israelites be allowed time off to worship God, was met with total rejection. But worse, Pharaoh reacted by making the slaves’ lives even more unbearable, their work impossible. Instead of making their lot better, Moses’s return to Egypt had made it infinitely worse.

They were ready to run Moses and Aaron out of town as traitors, not follow them out as celebrated liberators. Moses was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and like a lot of us, his initial response was to wonder, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I was just minding my own business and now look what’s happened!”

Moses’s experience is a reminder to all of us that we can be smack-dab in the middle of God’s will, and things can still go awry, sometimes in very big and painful ways. Being a follower of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that life is going to be easy or run smoothly. In fact, sometimes we will suffer more because we are following God’s way. What we have is not the promise of a Nirvana-like existence, but the promise of God’s presence and power with us in the midst of our very real lives, in our very broken world.

It’s not a promise to be taken lightly. God’s promise means that we have nothing to fear. Nothing. It means that problems, suffering, pain and death will not be the defining word in our lives. It means that there is always reason to hope. It means that we are not alone. It means that there is more going on than we can see, that God is continually working for good in our lives and throughout the earth.

We may still have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. But, rather than moving to Australia, our invitation is to put our faith in the God of the universe. Look at God, rather than focus solely on the problems. Trust that God is at work, even when we can’t see it. Choose to follow the ways of God’s kingdom, even when it doesn’t appear to make a difference. It does. It will. Don’t give up. God is with you, and that changes everything.

Yours for the Kingdom,


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