Monday, March 12, 2018

Hanging on to hope


Boy, am I glad it's a new week.

As I turn the page to a new week in my planner, I'm awfully glad to leave last week behind and to look with hope at the unsullied week ahead.


I'm really glad for some hope, because last week was hard around here. More than once I found myself agreeing with Alexander, "This is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day." Remember that book by Judith Viorst?

Maybe you've had days like that, too.

In the middle of those days, I realized something about myself. If you've read the book, you may remember that Alexander himself is telling the story, and the whole thing begins with this sentence:

"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth. . .
   And now there's gum in my hair."

Everything goes downhill after that, but it all started with the dadgum gum.

Which, in my mind, always provoked the question: Why on earth did he go to sleep with gum in his mouth?

Or the admonition: Never go to sleep with gum in your mouth.

Or worse, the accusation: You idiot! You know better than to go to sleep with gum in your mouth!

Somehow, as I surveyed the bad situations of last week, I always landed on the accusation.

You idiot! Why did you do that? Why didn't you do this?? You know better!

The problem with the accusation is that there's some truth in it. Alexander should have known better than to go to sleep with gum in his mouth. I should have known better than to do some of the things I did last week.

But knowing better doesn't always stop us from making mistakes, does it?

I'm thinking there's another way to interpret that first line of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, one that my soul desperately needs: confession.

I need to sit here honestly and say, "Look, I did some things I shouldn't have done. I messed up, and now we're all paying the price for that."

If I can press pause right there, if I can honestly admit to God and to other people that I did indeed screw up, I can stop the downward spiral.

No, I can't squirm out of the consequences of my mistakes and my sins. It may be that I'll have some terrible, horrible days. But I don't have to go all the way down to "no good."

My very favorite thing about God is that He can take any circumstance—even the terrible mistakes I make—and bring some good of it. The official term for that process is redemption, but I'm not sure that word is adequate. "Redemption" is what I do with coupons at the grocery store. It's what my mom used to do with S & H green stamps.

But the redemption God offers us is not at all mundane; it's miraculous.

I think we forget sometimes that God is quite capable of miracle. It's easy to measure God's abilities through our own feeble means, to hope only for forgiveness, because that sounds so hard to us. We want God simply to disregard our mistakes; we wish only that circumstances could be as if we had never sinned. But God can do better than that.


I made a mess of things last week. To be honest, I'm not even sure how to go about correcting my mistakes. But God doesn't have that problem. He can see the beginning from the end. He can see what contributed to my mistakes. He can see into my heart and the hearts of everyone affected by my sins.

And He can look at all that with eyes of eternal love, through which He can see what needs to be done.

My vision is distorted. I look at myself through eyes of condemnation and reproach. But that's not the way God sees me. Condemnation and reproach are the furthest things from His mind.

I can offer God the truth about myself, terrible as it may be. I can admit my deepest failings.

And then I can ask God to do what no one else can do. God can take even the worst of circumstances and use them to write a different story. He can bring about something new and beautiful from the mess, not despite the mess.

Only God can do that.

With God, there will be days when I screw up royally. There will be terrible, horrible, very bad days.

But there will never have to be days that are no good.

"God is light; in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). Redemption is His jam. In His hands, we are safe.
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7 comments:

  1. Such a perfect post and one we all need to read often. God is in the business of Miracles and He has given me some amazing Miracles. Thanks for the post and the reminder.

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  2. I'm so sorry you had such a horrible week, Richella. I surely know how you feel, and even though we all do things that we wish we could take back, I am so thankful for God's forgiveness and grace. I think one of the things that God uses most to keep us humble is our mistakes. He longs for us to draw to Him after our mess-ups, and the sense of humility it brings to us is so precious to His heart. If only we could ever view ourselves through His lens, we wouldn't be so hard on ourselves, would we? Sharing in your struggle and trusting Jesus to hold you close and heal what is broken, sweet friend.

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  3. It couldn't have been that bad Richella. You don't have it in you. You are such a beautiful lady full of God and love and all good things. Yes, we are all so very thankful God is there to take care of us and who knows what surprise God has for your big mess! He will always take care of us and God bless you.

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  4. Aren't you kind, Debbie? I pray that your confidence in me will be more and more well-founded. But no matter how much I mess up, I'm so grateful that God can turn even my mistakes into something good.

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  5. Hello Richella! I had one of those weeks two weeks ago... I had to say sorry to a friend. Later I wrote about it in a post but I was kinda quiet with that one ~ not wanting to upset her anymore. So, I didn't share it anywhere. If you want to read it, it's under Sunday Sentiments: Having to Say You're Sorry. I shared yours to my Faith board on Pinterest. It's a good thing God forgives us when we ask. <3

    Here's hoping that this week is better for you!!!
    Barb :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing your week with us. You give the rest of us hope for when we are tempted to despair! Blessings as you watch the Lord work grace into your heart and situation...:)

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  7. Richella, I'm so sorry you had one of those weeks! And, yes, we have all had them! God's love, mercy, and redemption are so incredible I understand how some have called them scandalous! Sometimes all we can do is receive His grace and forgiveness and then bend it out to others as we step out in faith, humbling admit and seek forgiveness, and trust Him for the results!

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