What’s not to like about a 42-page book with a 10 word title? And since 1972, over 4 million people have way more than liked—they’ve adored—Judith Viorst’s classic work, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading this story, the title obviously gives it away. A normal kid named Alexander had what seems like an abnormally awful day. But what I appreciated about Viorst’s original tale is that it focused on the fact that everyone has a bad day now and then, and mood shifts actually are as normal as the sunrise and sunset of each day.
But when Alexander’s story goes through Disneyfication and onto the big screen, you get all the bells and whistles of slapstick comedy topped off with a dash of Freaky Friday supernaturalism and schadenfreude. All in all, a clean and fun-filled family affair, but it may leave you with the longing for every terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day to wrap up as neatly as an 88 minute film.
Alas, most of the time, they don’t. The stinging pain and aching memories of unfortunate events linger, and weigh our hearts down as though they were attached to a ball and chain. And for followers of Jesus Christ, bad days seem even worse, given the fact that God is supposedly on our side—right?
And it is during those “Very Bad Days” that we wrestle with the question of “why does God allow these things to happen?” Or more specifically…
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO ME???
The car breaks down, the relationship breaks up. The depression reappears as my joy disappears. Old habits and addictions become new problems again. The news is bad, and the future looks worse.
In short, for some reason the God who made us and loves us allowed the terrible, the horrible, the no good, and the very bad into our day.
Now theologians and philosophers have wrestled mightily and waxed eloquently for centuries regarding this question, and unless you have private access to the eternal and unsearchable mind of God, you will struggle to find the answers as well.
The movie attempts to offer a response in the form of “hard times are mitigated when we have family to support us,” but I believe there is a an often missed principle offered up from God’s Word that addresses this issue on a much deeper level:
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
We may never know the ultimate reason that God allows suffering on this side of heaven, but one thing is certain, when we go through difficulties, there is a definite purpose awaiting us down the road. From this verse, we know that when we have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, it equips us to help someone down the road who is going through the same stuff!
Think about it…when you have been down about life, how amazing is it to meet and connect with someone who cannot only sympathize, but empathize as well. No two trials are exactly the same, but what a blessing it has been to me to hear from someone who has walked the same road of trial, and come through it. And when they share their story with me, it helps heal the painful memories in their lives, as well.
I know we all want easy answers and quick solutions to life’s problems, but until Disney completes its world domination, that just ain’t gonna happen folks. However, the next time you feel like Alexander, don’t wish hard times on the people who seem to have it all together, rather remember that God is preparing you to help someone in need in the future. And consider also that the suffering you endure can also be a testimony for THE Cause, because when the world sees you handle difficulties with patience and faith in Christ, it will open the door for you to talk to them about the Man who endured the greatest agony of all.
And that could be your best worst day ever!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Bad days come and go, and when they do, rather than question what God is doing, think about the ways He will use you in the future to help those in need of encouragement.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, give us the perspective from Your Word that teaches us to patiently endure difficult times so we can help those in need in the future. Give us also the eyes to see whose who are suffering so we can share our journey with them.
Read: 1 Peter 5:10. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
Get: Reverse…Live Differently. In the Old Testament, Daniel is a clear example of someone who experienced a whole string of no good, horrible, very bad days. But he didn’t let it stop him from living a life that brought incredible glory to God. Pick up a copy of Reverse today! This 21 day student devotional based on the life of Daniel will help you see for yourself how God can redeem the tough stuff in life and use us to impact our world for Him!
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: When we have bad days, we need to remember that God is allowing them so we can help others in the future.
Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
- Have you ever had a day like Alexander? What happened?
- What do the book and/or movie show us about suffering?
- How has God used your bad days to help people going through the same thing?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?