Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NJKV).
I had a bad day yesterday. It was a bad day at work, compounded by a day of bad news, made worse by the matter of being at home alone. Woe is me? No, not really, but even as a believer in Jesus, we have bad days.
At work, I had been chastised for work I had never done before on a moment’s notice, without preparation, and with minimal guidance. I had made several small but correctible errors yet the subsequent upbraiding from my manager struck me hard. By the end of the afternoon I was both angry and agitated, despairing and depressed. It kept me up last night.
Then, yesterday, I learned that a co-worker died last week. We weren’t close; in fact we barely knew each other. But her death hit me as unfair, cruel. Not more than an hour or so after learning that, another friend informed me that, just the day before, her own daughter had also died. That really shattered my mood because, while I never met her daughter, my friend and I worked closely together for several years and I consider her dear. Death goes beyond simple cruelty: it is hostile to all we love.
Last, I’m alone at home. My wife and our temporary resident daughter and grandchildren are gone for the week. It’s spring break, so we all agreed they should go out and enjoy themselves. I’m glad they are, but on such a tough day, I feel left alone. Yes, I know Christ never leaves us fully alone, yet I believe even Jesus must sympathize when our feelings get the best of us.
On days like these, Paul’s words of advice for us to meditate on what is good, pure and righteous are both hollow and uplifting. In the middle of my dark mood, they seem like sauce for the goose; a waste of time given my gloomy circumstances. Yet that’s only the evil one attacking me. In darkness, even a dim candle shines brightly. In my darkened mood yesterday, Paul’s advice to remind me to focus on the better angels of Christ’s nature is actually what I need to hear most. Word by word, little by little, the light they cast brightens over the gloomy dark. Thought by thought, they replace the dark with something much better.
And that’s the strength to start again. It’s Jesus’ strength.
Please pray for the families of Marci Crawford and Janice Blankenship. Pray for comfort, God’s peace, and balm in this time of grief.
For further reading: Philippians 4:9.
Lord Jesus, grant Your peace to my friends’ families today. Shine Your light into their lives to overcome the darkness. And in mine and ours as well.