“Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth. Sing praises to the Lord. Sing to the one who rides across the ancient heavens, His mighty voice thundering from the sky. Tell everyone about God’s power. His majesty shines down on Israel; His strength is mighty in the heavens. God is awesome in His sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. Praise be to God!”
Psalm 68:32-35 (NLT)
The last few days have been “bad days”. In the morning I’ve awakened “out of sorts” (in other words, ‘grumpy’ according to my lovely wife). There have been some major setbacks in projects at work and also with the radio ministry. I’m a little frustrated with my (lack of) progress with my running (and I’m getting very tired of this constant pain in my legs).
Basically, it’s been a bad couple of days.
Being a Christian doesn’t impart any immunity from “bad days”, but it should radically alter how we cope with and respond to them.
I was discussing the concept of maturity in Christ with a good friend recently and I think it has direct bearing on this topic. One indication of maturity (or immaturity) is an observation of the relationship between feelings and actions. For the immature, actions are driven by feelings. Consider a toddler. When a toddler is upset you know it immediately by their actions (yelling, hitting, throwing their toys, stomping their feet, etc.). Their actions are completely driven by their feelings. While we don’t enjoy seeing these displays of immaturity, we’re not surprised by them. A toddler is, by definition, immature and lacks discipline.
For the mature, however, the relationship between actions and feelings is just the opposite. The mature person exercises control and discipline over their feelings, refusing to allow them to drive their actions. The mature person “acts” apart from their feelings, and often finds that their feelings are changed as a result of their actions. In other words, for the mature person, feelings can be driven by actions.
So how does this apply to Christians and “bad days”?
When I’m having a “bad day” I can easily allow my feelings to drive my actions. I can snap at my wife and children, grumble at my coworkers, walk around with a scowl on my face – essentially spreading my misery to everyone around me. This is a sign of immaturity. I’m ashamed by how often I react this way.
Alternately, I can force myself to go to God’s Word and allow myself to be reminded of His greatness, His promises to always be with me and provide for me. I can meditate on the multitude of times that He has rescued me from my distress. I can look forward to the day when Jesus will return to earth to establish His kingdom – a perfect reign which will never end. When I “act” in these ways, I find that I “feel” better, because I’ve shifted the focus from myself and my problems over to a focus on God and His greatness.
I’ve allowed my actions to drive my feelings.
Father, thank you for comforting me from your Word today. Thank you for the psalmist who faithfully declared your power and majesty under the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit. Thank you that I don’t have to be a slave to my “feelings”, but can bring them under your complete control and Lordship. Give me the grace to apologize to those I’ve offended when I’ve allowed my feelings to drive my actions and lashed out during a “bad day.”