When I was a kid I fell in love with the children’s book “Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”, written by Judith Viorst. In the story poor Alexander experiences the worst of things. All in one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Everything from waking up in the morning with gum in his hair to being scrunched in the middle of the back seat on the way to school. From not having his picture chosen to be hung on the classroom wall to lima beans for supper. From having his marble go down the drain at bath time to biting his tongue. You get the picture. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
I think the reason I love the book so much is that deep down in my kid heart, I identify with Alexander. I have the same kind of day every now and again. Even as an adult.
Today my name is Alexander. I had to deal with disappointment. Rather deep disappointment.
No one died. The house didn’t burn down. We didn’t lose all our savings. I didn’t iron a hole in my favorite shirt. The car didn’t break down. No one threw up. But something I was very much looking forward to got cancelled.
I really should say postponed rather than cancelled. Because that’s what really got me thinking in the first place.
I discovered that I tend to think that if God says “No” once then that was the only chance at the thing. It won’t ever come back around. Perhaps it’s the perfectionism in me that thinks that way. I get one shot at things and after that it’s all over. Only one chance. Better get it right the very first time, cause honey, that’s all there is. No three-strikes-and-you’re-out. No, no, no. One strike and you’re out. One chance is all you get. The door may open once, but if it closes, it’s closed up tight, never to re-open.
But today made me reconsider. Feeling the disappointment was rather Alexander-ish and I thought maybe it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But then I realized that the thing I was anticipating was not cancelled, but rather postponed. It just wasn’t the right time. Another time will indeed come for me.
Maybe there are second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth chances after all. Maybe there is another, better time for a thing. Maybe God is waiting for the right time. Maybe He hasn’t cancelled my dreams, only postponed them.
Take Jacob for example. Circa Genesis 25-48. He could have been named Alexander. He and Esau tried to crush each other before they were born. They fought pretty much their whole lives. Jacob cheated to get what he’d been told was his. He wrestled with an angel and lived to tell about it. His favorite wife died. His favorite son Joseph was “killed by wild animals.” There was a famine in the land. Son Simeon was put into prison and the other sons expected to take Benjamin with them back to Egypt when they went to get more grain. Life was just plain rough. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life. Skip the day. It was just a bad deal.
But Jacob couldn’t see the end of the story. He couldn’t know that Joseph was still alive and had been storing up grain to keep the whole Abrahamic family alive. He had no idea that Joseph’s two sons would be two tribes of Israel. God hadn’t cancelled His goodness (or what Jacob thought was goodness). Jacob just couldn’t see it. . .
And this really isn’t a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day after all. There’s tomorrow. And the day after.
Am I willing to bear the disappointment for now, knowing that God is still good?
Am I willing to wait for God? Trusting in Who He is? Waiting for His glory to be revealed?
Are you? How are you plucking up your courage and faith and hope in the meantime?