How to Live Through a Bad Day
Exploring the words of Jesus as he was dying on the cross, this encouraging little gift book unfolds the key to triumphing over crisis, tragedy and loss. You'll also be inspired by the real life stories of others who have...
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Exploring the words of Jesus as he was dying on the cross, this encouraging little gift book unfolds the key to triumphing over crisis, tragedy and loss. You'll also be inspired by the real life stories of others who have overcome in the midst of such hardships as marital infidelity or financial collapse.
Each of us has experienced bad days, and these bad days are often compounded by our focus on the "badness" of the situation. But Dr. Jack Hayford contends that," in such times the Lord calls us to hear His voice." And so, beginning with seven phrases uttered by Jesus on the cross, he constructs the model for godly behavior while enduring hardship. Insights include:
Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. To forgive those seeking to injure you is to remove yourself from their control. My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? We can ask God the hard questions. Into Your hands I commit My spirit. Surrender your suffering to God and let go.
How to Live Through a Bad Day is ideal for anyone who has experienced stress, pain, weariness, or an assault of character. Jack Hayford speaks the words of Jesus -- the words of life that sustain and encourage us to live through our worst days.
Jack Hayford was the founding pastor of the 12,000-member The Church On The Way which he pastored until recently, chancellor of the King's Seminary in Los Angeles, and president of The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He has written more than 36 books and 600 hymns and choruses. His daily radio and weekly television programs reach nationally and globally. This "Pastor to Pastors" now focuses his ministry chiefly on issues of church leadership and on expanded outreach to denominational and interdenominational gatherings at colleges, seminaries, parachurch and other organizations around the world. He and his wife, Anna, live near Los Angeles, California.- Publisher.
Help Others Who Are Experiencing Your Same Struggle
Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.
Exactly how soon the interchange took place isn't clear, but Jesus-suspended on a Cross between a pair of thieves also being crucified-was made the subject of a brief debate between the two. Luke's report reads:
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)
At the beginning of the interchange, Jesus was only an observer-listener. He was on the Cross, but there were two others on crosses to the right and the left. They were criminals, and in an apparent coincidence of scheduling within the Roman program of execution, Jesus' bad day happened to be their day of destruction as well. Both men seemed to be aware of the claims that were made about Jesus and knew why He was there. But only one displayed cynicism and anger, swearing at Jesus and making a mocking reference to His power. The other criminal briskly challenged his counterpart: "Don't you have any respect? This Man doesn't deserve that kind of cynicism or bitterness. He hasn't done anything, but we're getting what we deserve." It was a clear confession of his sinfulness. Then in the same repentant spirit, and with a distinct and humble acknowledgment of Jesus' divinity, he made a request of the Savior: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
Jesus' response is a study in divine mercy, in grace's readiness to give salvation, in God's immeasurable gentleness toward all who come to Him, and in the truth that it is never too late to seek God. It is a scenario that jangles the nerves of the religionist who would haltingly dispense salvation. It is as dramatic a statement that God's Son could make to say, "Those who come to Me, I'll never turn away." That's the gospel truth wrapped in this event, but there's a discipling principle as well. In Jesus' response to this bad day encounter, we're taught a second lesson in how to live through such days of our own: encourage others who are struggling or uncertain.
Note two elements of Jesus' interaction with the repentant thief. First, the man was experiencing exactly the same thing Jesus was. Please capture that. Jesus could have been focused on His own problems, but He demonstrated sensitivity that remained available to the needs of other people around Him, even while dealing with His own pain. And in that action there was something more.
Second, Jesus might have regarded Himself as the man's superior, but He readily responded as One engaged in the same bad day struggle. True, the thief was facing the day with infinitely fewer resources than Jesus had. Jesus was suffering, but He was-and is-the Lord; even the thief recognized that. Jesus had been pierced at hands and feet with nails, and tortured with a thorn crown crushed onto His head, but He is God's King. Yet it was not from either His spiritually royal role or as a moral superior that the Savior related to the one seeking succor for his soul. He met the man on the common plane of their suffering together on that bad day. Jesus charted the way for our learning that, whatever our bad day may involve, He's calling us to meet fellow strugglers where they are, refusing to distance ourselves by reason of any position or resources we may have. Within God's grace I've slowly learned this lesson. And on one occasion I was literally shaken up as God exposed me to horrifying fear to help me learn it.
Ten thousand freight trains seemed to be thundering through our home at the moment Los Angeles was so violently devastated. It was 4:31, Monday morning, January 17, 1994, when the Northridge earthquake exploded life at a dimension resulting in one of the most cataclysmically expensive natural disasters in American history. My personal experience is unforgettable in a number of ways, but none more awkward than in the emotional trauma I found myself carrying in the days that immediately followed.
It was embarrassing.
Here I was, a man of faith, solidly established in the spiritual resources of God's Word and charged with the leadership of a flock in need of my strength and ministry to encourage them during the aftermath of the disaster-yet I was terrified. Every jolting aftershock jarred the raw sensitivities of us all, but I doubt that anyone was more traumatized than I was.
I had not been injured, and I had not suffered a staggering loss as those whose businesses had been left in shambles or those who had been hurt in the quake. Nor was I among the scores left bereaved by the loss of loved ones killed in incidents related to the massive upheaval. Our family was safe, our home virtually un-touched beyond some ruined furniture, scattered like toys across the rooms of our home. Still, as night fell on each following day, I seemed to become another person.
Nevertheless, I didn't want to admit to myself, much less to my wife or others, how the inner turmoil seemed to dominate me. It was not quite paralyzing, but it radically inhibited my normal feelings and responses. A trip alone to the other end of the house, especially after dark, nearly terrorized me. Though accustomed to rising in the night to spend an hour or more at prayer in the darkness while the rest of my family slept, I would venture only to the bathroom in the night with a flashlight in hand, and even then I was gripped by a sense of fear I had never known.
After four days of those uncharacteristic feelings, I desperately sought God in prayer. I was not frantic, and I was not stampeded by panic, but I was very, very bewildered. "Lord," I exclaimed, "I can't understand myself! I am not afraid for my life, and I am not in doubt of Your presence and protection. Please help me, Lord. I need Your help. Is something wrong with me?"
Instantly, and with utmost surprise at the immediacy of the response, I sensed an inner whisper to my soul: My son, there is nothing wrong with you. I allowed you to experience the depth of the trauma and fear that has gripped multitudes so that you might understand their torment and comfort them beyond their fears.
I knew that Voice, and I was immediately drawn to His Word: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Cor. 1:3-4). It relates one of the classic strategies of the Most High, who uses His children who have endured difficulty to become strength to others experiencing the same trial. It is the divine reminder that we comfort others not from the foundation of our superior faith but from the commonality of our mutual struggles.
The following week I brought one of the most successful sermons of my forty years of pastoral preaching, "Discerning and Dealing with Fears," teaching from 1 John 4:17-19. Not only did I root my teaching in God's unshakable Word of promise, but I illustrated it with full, personal transparency-relating my own wrestlings with fear over the preceding days. I risked seeming less than a pillar of strength, opened my heart to vulnerably admitting my bewilderment with my apparently less-than-faith-filled nights of uneasiness and the completely unnerving sense of helplessness I felt with every aftershock, and people were strengthened! Hearts took hope. Eyes began to shine again. Faith was evoked in the wake of my confessing my fears. It seemed paradoxical, but it was the fulfillment of God's Word-the one source where faith can be found when bad days surround you.
The elders of our church agreed to provide for thousands of audiocassette copies of my message to be duplicated and distributed freely via our congregation. Hundreds used them to answer their own inner struggles, while hundreds more passed them on to friends and relatives who were experiencing postquake trauma. The impact was dramatic. And the reason was basically that one lone disciple, tormented by fear where others might have thought him above such distress, was given grace to live out a little of the greatness seen in our great Savior.
That grace is seen most grandly in the midst of the initial Good Friday-the one bad day beyond all bad days. As the Son of God assured another fellow sufferer in the middle of His own agony, He not only comforted him with the promise of eternal hope; He met him in the "today" of his struggle with divine promise, the ultimate assurance: "Assuredly . . . today!" Those are words to take anyone through any bad day.