When God’s Sovereignty and Your Bad Day Meet

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I’m a planner. I have a running to-do list on my phone categorized by days. I rarely start a day without a set plan. Spontaneity isn’t in my blood. In fact, it kind of freaks me out.

A few weeks ago what started as a bad fever for one of my kids quickly became a family affair. Within 48 hours our entire clan was sick with not one, but two illnesses. Our pediatrician called it a secondary virus. I called it absolute insanity.

While I emerged unscathed by the two illnesses, my to-do list lay dormant without a single thing crossed off. As the sickness passed, I entered a mild state of panic. How am I going to catch up? I’m going to be digging out of laundry, dishes, and writing deadlines for weeks. Panic turned to self-pity, and I began wondering if God hadn’t made a mistake in giving me this awful week filled with sickness.

This Is the Day

Growing up I remember singing a psalm put to music called “This Is the Day,” taken from Psalm 118:24:

This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

For some reason, this peppy song came into my head repeatedly that week. As my plans went out the window (and were replaced with seemingly mundane caregiving work), I would hear in my head this childhood song.

Today is his day, Courtney, I would say to myself. Don’t despise it.

Easier said than done.

When our day is filled with completing tasks, happy family members, tangible results in our work, or a general good mood, it’s easy to think, “This is the day that the Lord has made.” It’s easy to rejoice in it. It’s easy to be glad when all is right in our little world.

But what about the day that’s hard? When nothing goes right? When the bad news comes? When you want a do-over by 9 a.m.? When a co-worker interrupts your project because she needs help with something, and now you have to work into the evening. Can you rejoice and be glad in that day? Can you see God’s daily gift to you in the bad as well as the good?

I think so.

God’s Purpose in Your Days

If our days were meant be about our own productivity, happiness, and fulfillment, then perhaps we could find a reason to sideline Psalm 118:24. But this is not the case. God’s purpose in our days is that he would get glory, that we would become like Jesus, and that we would grow in love for those around us. We are not autonomous beings. This means there are countless scenarios playing out in our days that are intended to accomplish God’s greater purposes for us.

The sickness of a family member might be God’s means of making you and them more like his Son. As you lay down your agenda and serve, God is at work. As the one who is sick accepts his limitations and sees his need in a fallen world, God is at work. A bad day doesn’t mean God’s hand is against you. It might be his way of showing he is for you.

A bad day doesn’t mean God’s hand is against you. It might be his way of showing he is for you.

God keeps no good thing from us (Ps. 84:11). If we don’t have it, it’s not for our good. Every circumstance that comes our way is under his control. He knows the number of hairs on our head; how much more does he know the outcome of our crazy lives (Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7)? We see our life from only one vantage point. God sees it from many. We can accept the days he gives us with assurance and trust because he knows more than we do and sees the complete picture of our lives.

God’s Goodness in Your Days

Psalm 118 is a song of thanksgiving. The psalmist calls the nation of Israel to praise God for his steadfast love, then moves into recounting God’s deliverance from distress, which leads to worship. Verse 24 likely refers what is called the festival day, the day they celebrate God’s deliverance. As believers, we can join this celebration, even on the most difficult days. We may not experience rescue from earthly trials, but in Jesus we have the deliverance that matters most.

God’s goodness amid difficulty permeates the Scriptures, from Joseph declaring that God intended his brothers’ evil for good (Gen. 50:20) to the ultimate injustice when Jesus hung on the cross. The days that look like failures in the world’s eyes—and even in our eyes—are not really failures after all. They are accomplishing God’s plans for us and for the world.

Whatever kind of day God has planned for you today, it’s his day. He intends to achieve his purposes in you and those around you. Even when you feel like nothing is going your way, he is worthy of your praise. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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