Many people say,
“We can’t find goodness anywhere.
The light of your face has left us, Lord!”
But you have filled my heart with more joy
than when their wheat and wine are everywhere! Psalm 4:6-7 (CEB)
A few weeks ago, my nine year old stomped off the school bus in a huff. He’d had a very bad day. He’d lost a behavior point at school for something that was entirely NOT his fault, done poorly on a spelling test, and had a newly purchased glow stick broken on the bus. There was nothing in the house he wanted for a snack, I was insisting on homework before TV, and he had to come with my husband and I to church later that evening. Could life get any worse?
Being the mama hen that I am, I took him in my arms and held him for awhile, then got up and made him some nachos, because what problem can’t be solved with some chips and queso? After his mood improved a bit, we had a discussion about the appropriate way to handle “bad days”–namely that bad days happen to everyone and lashing out at the people who love you most is counterproductive. “Every day is a fresh start,” I told him as he licked cheese sauce from his finger. “You’re going to let this day go and try your hardest to make tomorrow better.”
One of the things I want my boys to understand is that what we put into the world is an important choice we make on a daily basis. There are always bad days (even in Australia, according to one of our favorite children’s books!). But how we respond to those bad days is the difference between bringing goodness into the world, or continuing to spread darkness.
The world is and always has been a tremendously messed up place. Violence, hate, distrust, corruption, immorality, and injustice reign supreme. As human beings, we seem to be incapable of finding the path to peace. As the eyes of the nation turn, yet again, to another senseless massacre, I wonder sometimes what the point of our faith is anyway. Jesus’ talk of love and grace doesn’t seem to be making much headway in our current culture. But then, I remember the conversation I had with my son, and I think…we have to make tomorrow better.
Psalm 4 is a song of David. Like many of David’s psalms, it begins with a plea to the Lord. David is having a bad day. David, in actuality, has many bad days. In his youth, he’s forced to flee from a madman who wants his head on a platter. He has to engage in battle to secure his kingdom, and then continue in battle to maintain that kingdom. He fails God over and over again, and a civil war erupts in his own household. David, the man after God’s own heart, is a hot mess. And yet, God redeems all of humanity through him. This is because David, for all of his faults, continues to follow God. David understands that, at some point, he is going to see God’s goodness again. And so David sings to the Lord, spreading God’s goodness and love to others looking for a light in the darkness.
As Jesus followers, this is our mission, as well. Jesus commissioned his disciples to go into the world, not pull back from it. He sent them out to share the good news of Jesus Christ to all who would hear it. Make no mistake, the disciples had bad days. They experienced personally the worst life had to offer, but they kept going because they knew that God had a better tomorrow in store for all who would follow him.
So, how do we make tomorrow better? I think, as Jesus followers, we do everything we can to put as much of God’s goodness into the world as possible. This doesn’t take heroic efforts, although sometimes God does call us to impossible tasks. Rather, we can bring God’s goodness into the world one day at a time.
Maybe you can bring God’s goodness into the world by taking a meal to a busy neighbor or a friend who is recuperating from an illness. Maybe you can bring God’s goodness into the world by unexpectedly blessing someone with the gift of time, assistance, or encouragement. Maybe you can get some friends together and volunteer at a local charity. Maybe you can commit to only posting positive and encouraging messages on social media, rather than criticizing or complaining. Maybe you can offer forgiveness to someone who has hurt you. Maybe you can stop nursing that grudge you’ve been holding onto choose to let it go. Maybe you can volunteer to tutor or mentor a child at a local school. There are millions of ways to bring goodness into the world, we just have to make a choice and do it.
This week, I challenge you (and me) to find ways to “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the place you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
Blessings and Peace,