You have probably read the children’s classic by Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Alexander went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. He tripped when he got out of bed, his best friend deserted him and there was no dessert in his lunchbox and he had to eat lima beans for dinner. His brothers were mean to him and when he retaliated he got in trouble. He did not have a good day!
Maybe you have had days like that. Alice Roth had one like that. She was attending a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game on August 17, 1957, sitting in the press box behind the third base dugout with her husband, Earl (sports writer for the Philadelphia Bulletin), and their two grandsons.They were there at Connie Mack Stadium to watch the home team play the New York Giants (who later moved to San Francisco).
Richie Ashburn, one of the “Whiz Kids” of the 1950 National League Champion Phillies, came up to bat. Richie, who would retire with a .306 batting average and more than 2500 hits, was very adept at fouling off balls until he got a good pitch to hit. Well he fouled off a ball that ended up going in the press box behind the third base dugout and hit Alice in the face, breaking her nose. After a brief delay in the game to allow the medical staff to attend to Alice, Ashburn fouled off the next pitch, hitting Alice as she was being carried off on a stretcher, breaking a bone in her leg!
To try to salvage their relationship with the sports editor of the local paper, the Phillies invited Earl Roth and his grandchildren into their clubhouse after the game, giving the kids free tickets to future games and an autographed baseball from Richie Ashburn. Visiting his grandma in the hospital later that day, one of the grandsons asked her, “Grandma, do you think you could attend an Eagles game and get hit in the face with a football!”
Richie Ashburn went to see Alice the next day and developed a friendship with the Roths, whose son would later become the Phillies bat boy (and Alice continued to attend games!). Upon his retirement, Richie did radio and TV color commentary for the Phillies’ games and wrote articles for the Philadelphia Bulletin!
So, how do you deal with “horrible, no good, very bad days” in your life? We all have them at times. In the Bible accounts, several people come to mind who had some very bad days. I think, for example, of Job who the Bible says was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). On one day, his oxen were killed by the Sabeans, his sheep were burned up by fire from heaven (lightning), and the camels were taken by the Chaldeans. Almost all his servants were killed and then a great wind collapsed the house of his oldest son where his ten children were celebrating a meal together and all were killed. Now that’s a “bad day”! So, how did Job respond? “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed by the name of the LORD.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:20-22). Wow!
I also think of David, who, though he had been anointed to be the new king of Israel to replace King Saul, had to flee for his life from Saul for several years and undoubtedly had many “bad days.” He was also, with his band of men, having to battle some of Israel’s enemies, like the Philistines and the Amalekites. On one occasion, he and his men returned to Ziklag, to discover that it had been burned and the wives and children of David and his men had been taken captive (I Sam. 30:1-3). On top of being distressed over the loss of his two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, David faced the anger of his men, blaming him for their situation and speaking of stoning him. Now that too was a bad day for David. What did he do? I Sam. 30:6 tells us: “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” Later the Psalmist would write: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I keep Thy word…I know, O LORD, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me” (Psa. 119:71,75).
From the many stories in the New Testament, I think of when Paul and Silas, obeying God’s leading to take the Gospel to Europe, ended up having a bad day at Philippi. A demon-possessed slave girl who made money for her master by fortunetelling, was a great annoyance to Paul and Silas as they preached, so Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her (Acts 16:16-18). “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities,… saying, ‘These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans’ “ (vv. 19-21… Philippi was a Roman colony). The crowd tore off Paul and Silas’ robes and beat them with rods, and had them thrown into the inner section of the jail and fastened their feet with stocks (vv. 22-24). I’d say that Paul and Silas were having a very bad day! But notice the next verse: “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (V. 25). Then God sent a great earthquake and all the doors in the jail came open and chains came off the prisoners and when the jailer (who had been asleep) was made aware he was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul said, don’t harm yourself, we’re all still here! The jailer, seeing that was true, said to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” (vv. 25-31). Out of Paul and Silas’ “bad day” came salvation to the Philippian jailer and his household (vv. 32-34).
We all have bad days, but God can use them for our good and His glory. “When you can’t see His hands, trust His heart.”