The sun has set by the time I arrive home off shift, the porch lights glow revealing a shadow in the window.
He’s up waiting for me.
Always the night owl, I’m his opposite, the early bird. But, on days like these I’m grateful for it.
The weight of the world pulls on my shoulders; I’ve held a patient’s hand in their pain, listened to sobs of suffering, or heard a story of violent abuse giving rise to their nightmares and depression. The brokenness of the world brings an ache to my soul.
It’s been a hard day.
As I enter my home, out of the swirling chaos, I lay my bag on the table and sink into the couch. He sits near and listens carefully as my stream overflows.
It’s not only the days of hurt and suffering, there's times when it's just been tough; no beds in the hospital, personalities clashing, and things just weren’t working out the way they’re supposed to.
We’ve bad days. Things go wrong. People make mistakes. Plans get changed.
To decompress, we pour out hurts or frustrations as we process and reflect on what’s all happened. Sometimes, what began as a simple story triggers deep emotions that start tumbling out.
But, in our heightened emotions, what’s the story we’re telling, and what are we hearing back?
A Man Who Had A Bad Day
What began as a joyful day for Haman ends with mounting anger and frustration (Esther 5:9-13). Arriving. home agitated and grumbling, he sits with his wife and friends, in what sounds like a long vent recounting his achievements, successes and prestige, contrasting with offence and bitterness.
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Prov 29:11).
His wife and friends see Haman’s deep distress. It’s never easy to hear the pain or watch the suffering of our spouse or our friends.
However, their response reflects a sole purpose to help him feel happy again-to feed his pride and selfishness.
Seeing his emotional hurt they want to replace those “bad” emotions with good ones. We see this strategy often as grandparents hand out a candy to a child throwing a tantrum, or by taking a friend out for retail therapy when they’re down.
Replacing one emotion for another seems to do the trick; these simple acts ease the burden of suffering.But, making someone feel happy again won’t solve the problem. It surely wasn’t going to solve Haman’s.
While he blames the trouble on Mordecai-the injustice of not being given respect, a right he’s earned and has been given him by the king-the true issue is the sinful state of his heart.
The ungodly advice propels increasing hatred toward Mordecai, and we are reminded “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4).
The truth is, we’ve all been Haman.
We’ve all let our emotions-and thus our words-get the best of us, venting on social media, or letting gossip and slander pass our lips-whether it’s behind closed doors or not, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34).
Another truth is, we’ve all responded as his wife and friends.
Hearing the frustrations and anguish of an emotionally struggling friend, we often want to affirm and encourage them, but we’ve not always had the courage to counsel with biblical truth or the insight of godly wisdom.
A Woman Who Had A Bad Day
She received bad news. Really bad news.
Her husband, the king, gave permission for the entirety of her people to be wiped out.
Overwhelmed with shock, then fear, through a messenger, she dialogues with her uncle, expressing her alarm and despair. As he heard her pleas, he responds with a voice of wisdom and courage (Est 4:11-17), reminding her of who God is-a God who delivers-and her choice; selflessly try to save her people, or selfishly chance saving herself.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of godly correction (and I pray you have), you know the awkward, embarrassing, frustrating moment it can be. Even when the words are spoken in grace and love, it takes a few breaths before you gather yourself together again.
As Esther took a moment, we see her respond with conviction. Humbling herself before the Lord in fasting and prayer, inviting her people to join. Knowing the risk to herself, she would trust the Lord’s providence with humility and faithfulness.
The truth here is, we need each other to point us to truth.
As he listens to the story of my day, he notices when I shift into a rant, or when I’m teetering on the edge of foolishness; then, he tells me.
Humbling as it is, that’s exactly the point. We humble ourselves before the truth of God’s word, to renew our minds, to fix our thoughts on what is true, noble and praiseworthy, and to point us toward the desires of the Spirit, not those of the flesh.
My prayer these days is,“search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24).
May we, the bride of Christ, follow his lead, submitting ourselves to the Father and the truth he has given us in his word, that by his grace we may grow in maturity and Christlikeness.