One of my all time favorite books on THE PLANET is a kid’s book. No surprise there, right? Don’t laugh. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a must-have for any personal library. You’d be amazed how many hidden gems you can uncover in a short story geared to second graders.
Over the past six months, I’ve had more than my share of stinkin’ hard days. Mornings where I’ve woken up and thought, “Yep. TODAY IS THE DAY. I’m moving to my cottage in that quaint English village.” After all, poor Alexander wanted to escape to Australia. Had days like this? Here’s the thing. I’ve recently discovered a profound truth that has radically changed my life: My reactions on my worst days are symptoms, clues that something deeper and stronger is stirring in my soul.
It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember this saying?
Let’s take a look at the Titanic. Hold on. Before I go there, I have another confession. I am genuinely terrified of icebergs. And whales. Maybe it’s just an ocean thing? Who knows, maybe I need therapy. I ain’t lyin’, ladies. I experience a mild panic attack just looking at photos of icebergs. Sheesh. Yeah, I probably need therapy.
Alright, back to those freakishly large chunks of ice. What you see on the surface of the water is NOT what you get. The creepy part is lurking just under. The Titanic received six warnings of sea ice on that fateful day in 1912. Six. They never slowed their pace. They chose to ignore the warnings. Sadly, they continued traveling near maximum speed, which unfortunately prevented them from turning in time to avoid the iceberg. That massive block of frozen freshwater would then send thousands of passengers and crew to a watery grave. Do you remember how long it took the ship to sink? 2 hours and 40 minutes. 1,517 people were gone.
April 12, 1912, was a terrible, horrible, very bad day. The painful truth is that didn’t have to be. If only the captain and crew had heeded the warnings. If only they hadn’t been so prideful, so sure that absolutely nothing could or would sink their world-famous ocean liner. What if a high paying passenger had overheard the warnings and insisted on slowing down and changing course? What if the captain had listened? How much time would it have taken to alter speed and course and pay closer attention to the floating ice? It would have saved lives. But it wasn’t the iceberg’s visible tip that destroyed this ship; it was what lay beneath the waterline. It was the unseen, unconsidered, and ignored problem that proved deadly. In the end, the passengers remained blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking beneath the surface until it was too late.
Life is an ocean fraught with icebergs, and I’m faced with a choice every day. Ignore or examine. My worst days, those days that leave me breathless, powerless, and hurting are revealing. Difficult parenting moments uncover my impatience, quick temper, and loose tongue. Marital disputes and frustrations expose my selfishness. Distressful, unwanted news brings to light my fear and lack of trust in the Lord. Fierce rage and uncontrollable feelings of betrayal and confusion arise when people I love and trust say and do hurtful things. So many times I’m completely caught off guard by the fear and fury lying in wait deep down in my soul. But you know what? These revelations are meant to be healing. But if ignored, they are destructive.
But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. Ephesians 5: 13
Jesus is the Light. Remember? He said it in John 8:12. “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of the life.” And the deeper we get in His Word, the closer we get to Him, the more He reveals our hidden sin and mess. For our good, girls. Refinement, this testing of our faith, is for us. We don’t want to be blissfully unaware of the troubles lurking in our hearts, and we absolutely don’t need to ignore our sin. We don’t walk around pretending the infection, that cancer, isn’t running through our veins, even though the symptoms are painfully obvious to everyone around us. Feigning ignorance and concealing our sin is just as ridiculous, just as dangerous. It harms our fellowship with the Lord and other believers, and it destroys our peace and joy. Instead, Jesus requires this of us:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139: 23-24
We want our sin up front and in our faces. Why? Because healing begins when we’re honest and open about our weaknesses, our struggles, and our mistakes. Yes, it’s messy. Yes, it’s humbling. Yes, it hurts. But the Lord doesn’t refine us to mistreat us, and He doesn’t require openness and vulnerability to embarrass us. He refines because He LOVES us, and it’s for a PURPOSE.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12
Consider it joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
He wants us whole, girls. WHOLE. Pure. Unshackled. HOLY. Our hard times are our refining times, our moments of revealing. Let’s acknowledge the icebergs, see them for what they are, because every challenging situation provides us with opportunities to grow. They are our hidden gems. We will never escape terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days in this life. But as followers of Jesus, fully surrendered to His will and His purpose, we can have joy in our tough times, knowing we are tried and disciplined out of love. Sure, it’d be nice to pack up and escape to the English countryside or Australia every time we are forced to face our weaknesses, but it’s not necessary. Instead, let’s choose to embrace the Truth, leaning closer into the only One who offers us real hope and healing.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17: 7-8