A friend called as I was in the midst of a difficult day. When he asked, “How’s it going?” I launched into a litany of woes: malfunctioning alarm clock, spilled grape juice on a new white shirt, three empty buses flying by as I hurried toward my bus stop, and an important and urgent e-mail inexplicably bounced back, missing a deadline. Now I’d begun to take out my frustrations on my coworkers. I was about to continue my griping when my friend gently interrupted: “Well, it’s never too late to have a good day.”
At first I wanted to hang up. I was looking for sympathy, and he offered me a strong dose of wisdom instead. I wanted to wallow in victimhood, and he offered me the opportunity to put my faith into practice.
I knew what he was trying to tell me. He’d shared his beliefs with me before, both in word and in example. I’d seen him handle difficulties with grace and patience and even a touch of humor.
“How can I do that?” I asked. He said I needed to stop agonizing and take a few deep breaths. Then I could ask God sincerely for help with whatever would come my way that day.
Finally, I simply needed to stop looking backward and instead do the next thing right in front of me, for that’s where God’s help would meet me. I took his advice, and since then I’ve become a big believer in these three steps:
It was hard for me to admit it, but agonizing over my day as if life were all about me was not only self-centered but showed a certain lack of faith. As long as I stayed in the self-absorbed mode of griping, I was failing to look for God in these challenging moments. Scripture tells us that nothing can “separate us from the love of God” Romans 8:38-39. And that certainly extends beyond minor irritations such as spilled grape juice and missed buses.
Ask God for help:
This small change in attitude—from trying to handle everything on our own to inviting God’s help into our lives—makes an enormous difference in how our days play out. It’s not that God is withholding help unless we beg for it; God’s help is always available. The point is that unless we seek it, we won’t be open to recognizing that help when it’s all around us. The act of asking for God’s assistance predisposes our hearts, minds, imaginations, and wills to responding to it when it comes our way.
Do the next thing right in front of you:
If you’ve been having “one of those days,” you may be tempted to try to address all your challenges at once. This can leave you disoriented, scattered, and confused. Instead, trust that God’s will for you can be found right here and right now in whatever situation you’re in. It’s in the present moment that we encounter God’s grace.
Our lives will never be free from challenges, disappointments, and difficulties, but God promises to accompany us if we invite him along. And that can make all the difference. Have a good day!