By Dr. Robert Jeffress
When bad days come, most of us want God to show up and do big things: miraculous healing, the sudden and unexpected return of a prodigal, addictions broken overnight, or a mountain of financial debt magically erased. But God usually answers in less dramatic ways. He offers us courage to face our illnesses, wisdom to handle our finances, and grace in our struggle with sin.
It is with a “still small voice” that God calls us out of our caves in which we have hidden. And with a gentle whisper, God urges us to cry for help during the storm. But to hear and heed Him, especially when the wind is howling and the waves are crashing, we must learn how to discern and listen to God’s voice.
David was an extraordinary leader and the textbook definition of significance.
But David was not exempt from experiencing bad days. Perhaps his worst day is recorded in 1 Samuel 30. After one of their missions, David and his men returned to the town of Ziklag only to discover that the Amalekites had destroyed their homes and taken their wives and children. Incredibly discouraged, David’s men talked openly about stoning him. Talk about a bad day! But notice how David responded:David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam. 30:6)
You may never experience a devastating house fire, the kidnapping of a family member, or a mutiny by your most trusted allies—all on the same day—but you will inevitably face your own bad days. Everyone who wants to experience an extraordinary life must learn how to strengthen themselves in the Lord by listening to the voice of God.
” Bad days are inevitable, but they do not have to last forever. “
Here are some practical things you can do to strengthen yourself in the Lord when you experience a bad day.
First, dedicate a time and place where you get alone with God. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the morning or evening, there needs to be a time when you have a regular appointment to meet with God. Some like to do this over a cup of coffee or sitting at the dining room table. I told you in chapter 6 that I do this by kneeling beside the couch in my office. If you are unaccustomed to doing this, do not try and overdo it. Ten or fifteen minutes a day is a great way to start! If you are going through a particularly difficult season in your life that is the result of a major loss, a painful circumstance, or a wrong choice, you might consider setting aside a full day or half a day to meet with God.
Second, select a portion of the Bible to read and meditate on. Remember, God’s primary means of communication to us is through His Word. When you read Scripture, you know you are listening to the voice of God. You might consider Psalm 34, which extols the faithfulness of God, or Psalm 51, which describes the forgiveness of God. For a longer passage, try reading Romans 8—my favorite chapter in the Bible— which reminds us of the love of God. Or you might want to read through an entire book of the Bible. Paul’s brief letter to the Philippians is a great place to start, since it instructs us on how to be joyful despite difficult circumstances.
Third, choose one or two verses to memorize. Any verse or two that grabs your attention or brings comfort in your trial is fine. When bad days come your way in the future, the Lord loves to bring those verses back to your memory—to encourage you again.
Fourth, after reading, spend time in prayer. Your prayers do not have to be eloquent or lengthy. God does not pay more attention to long, drawn-out prayers laced with “Thees” and “Thous” than those offered in more common language. God does not weigh your words; He weighs your heart. This is a time to be honest with God, telling Him what is in your heart rather than what you think should be in your heart. Transparency with God in prayer begins with confessing any sin in your life. Remember, when you acknowledge your wrong actions or wrong attitudes, you are not giving God any new information!
Finally, read a few pages in a good Christian book that is centered on the attributes of God. Some I recommend are A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, J. Oswald Sanders’s The Pursuit of the Holy, and J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. Reading a chapter or two a day about the character qualities of God will remind you that you are not following a philosophy but a Person—the Creator of the universe, who cares about you and wants to help you overcome your bad days.
Bad days are inevitable, but they do not have to last forever. Those who experience an extraordinary life have learned how to navigate through times of discouragement by strengthening themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Experiencing a bad season of life is like traveling through a dark tunnel. The bad news is that while you are in the tunnel, you cannot see anything in front of you. The good news is that once you have entered the tunnel, you are already on your way out of it.
Taken from Choosing the Extraordinary Life by Robert Jeffress. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (www.bakerpublishinggroup.com).
Dr. Robert Jeffress is senior pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, a Fox Newscontributor, and a member of the executive committee of the White House Faith Initiative. His daily radio program, Pathway to Victory, is heard on more than 930 stations nationwide, and his weekly television program is seen on thousands of cable systems and stations in the US and in nearly 200 countries around the world. Known for his bold, biblical stands on cultural issues, Jeffress has been interviewed on more than 2,000 radio and TV programs, including Hannity, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Judge Jeanine, Varney & Company, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, and Real Time with Bill Maher.