Ever have one of “those” days? Of course, you have. We’ve all had days that started badly and grew progressively worse.
After a fitful night’s sleep, we turn the wrong way getting out of bed and tweak our back. We burn the bacon and fight traffic all the way to work. The boss yells. We have to work late. Again with the traffic all the way home. One of the kids got in trouble at school and needs to be disciplined. Everyone’s hungry but the fridge is empty. The Papa John’s delivers it cold. When we finally get to bed, we’re so wound up that we can’t fall asleep.
And the cycle repeats.
Someone has declared that “life’s too short to have a bad day.” While I like that sentiment and try to live by it, the truth is bad days are going to come no matter what. Life is hard.
In Genesis 5, Moses has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He is to meet with the King of Egypt—the Pharaoh—to deliver a word from God. The goal is to make Pharaoh give freedom to the Hebrew people. Moses shows up for the meeting, delivers his lines, and Pharaoh laughs in his face. “Who is the Lord God? I’ve never heard of Him! Why should I do what he says? In this part of the world, the Lord God is nobody!”
So begins Moses’ bad day. But it’s gonna get worse. Moses again recites his speech and this time, Pharaoh gets angry. “You’re just trying to steal my cheap labor, Moses. Get back to work and leave me alone!” Moses and Aaron leave the royal chambers with their tails between their legs.
But Pharaoh’s not done. He summons his Egyptian supervisors and the Hebrew foremen and issues an impossible mandate: “Leave the brick quota the same, but take away the straw supply from the Hebrews. Force them to find their own straw.”
Bricks can’t be made without straw. When the Hebrews can’t make quota, the Israelite foremen are beaten by their supervisors. They go before Pharaoh to plead their case. “You’ve given us an impossible task!”
Pharaoh’s response? “Maybe, next time, you’ll think twice about listening to Moses’ lies. Now, get back to work.”
The foremen find Moses and lay a big ol’ guilt trip on him. “This is all your fault, Moses! We are a stench in Pharaoh’s nostrils and because of you, people are going to die.”
What a day! Moses must be wondering why he even bothered to get out of bed. He did all the right things, said all the right things, at just the right time. None of this is his fault! But now, Moses stands alone. The Hebrews won’t stand with him. The Egyptians hate him.
Leadership is often lonely. But loneliness is part of the job description. I like this quote from J. Oswald Sanders in his book Spiritual Leadership: “Leaders must be people who are willing to stand alone as they execute their duties and responsibilities. He or she must be prepared to have no one but God.”
No one but God.
“I AM the Lord. Now watch what I will do.”
Maybe Moses read Sanders’ book because Exodus 5:22 says, Then Moses turned to the Lord. Moses turns and pours out his heart to God. We don’t know his tone. Maybe it was anger. Maybe it was resignation. But Moses speaks very honestly to the Lord.
God loves it when we speak to Him from the heart. We know that because of His response to Moses in Exodus 6:1-2. Read it carefully and thoughtfully. God says, “Now you shall see what I will do…. I AM the Lord.”
May we be a people who follow Moses’ formula!
Step one: Turn to God.
Turning to the Lord is a good move any time, but especially when you’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (or week or year). The situation is hopeless and you’re powerless to fix it. Your fair-weather friends have deserted you. Here’s what you do–Turn to the Lord. He has the power.
In John 6, Jesus offends the multitudes by telling them that physical food is of no value. If they want to enter the Kingdom of the Heavens, they must feast on His flesh. His flesh is real food. Everyone but the twelve heads for the house. Jesus says, “Are you going to leave me, too?”
Peter’s reply is epic: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68). Turning to God is always the best first move.
Step two: Speak to God from your heart.
God hears! He listens when we pray heartfelt prayers. Writing to Christians, John says, “This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5.14-15).
James says that “the effective prayers of the righteous have great power” (James 5.16).
I invite you to try Moses’ formula. Turn to God and speak to Him from your heart. I am confident that in God’s time you will hear Him say,
“I AM the Lord. Now watch what I will do.”