Rethinking Good Days and Bad Days


Here's how to have hope for those terrible, awful, no good, very bad days.

Are you having one of those days? (We all have them). Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and it didn’t take long before you knew it was going to be a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

Everyone has days that are less than perfect. But have you ever thought about what makes a good day “good,” and a bad day “bad”? More often than not, we let our circumstances dictate how we feel at the end of the day:

  • I slept in, went to lunch with a friend, and had ice cream for dessert. Yep, it was a good day.
  • My hair actually cooperated with me, and I can fit into my favorite dress again. I feel great! It’s gonna be a good day.
  • I got my assignment completed before the deadline and scrubbed the house from top to bottom, but no one noticed or appreciated all my hard work. It was not a good day.
  • I made it through my to-do list with only a few minor hiccups. I feel pretty good about myself. Good day, check!
  • I didn’t snooze through my alarm, didn’t lock my keys in the car, and didn’t trip and die going down the stairs. I guess today was alright.
  • He/she/they noticed me. Good day!
  • He/she/they didn’t pay attention to me. Bad day!

I’m project-oriented, not people-oriented, so I tend to look at my to-do list and see how much was accomplished to determine whether or not it was a successful day. Nine out of fourteen things checked off, I think. Hey, this day is going pretty well!

But those days when I get stuck on one long, tedious project . . . or when all of my plans are hijacked . . . I’m no longer feeling quite so good about myself. It’s more like, Wow, this was a terrible day. I’m pretty much a failure.

But are checkmarks on to-do lists or feelings a good way to sort good days from bad? Are our accomplishments or performance good rulers for measuring our value?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • When discouragement and failure consume my thoughts at the end of the day, I’m looking to my works to satisfy me.
  • When pride and boasting fill my mind and mouth after a job well done, I’m looking to my accomplishments to empower me.
  • When self-sufficiency and independence crowd out God’s place in my heart, I’m looking to myself to save me.
  • When I let the attention and accolades of others shift my mood, I am living to please man, not God.

Ouch! Can you relate?

When we begin to look to ourselves and our accomplishments for satisfaction or approval, we’re heading down the slippery slope of self-righteousness and independence from God. Basically we’re telling God we don’t need Him. We’re forgetting Christ’s work on the cross because we think we’ve got things under control.

Finding a Balance

What’s happening here? How does a simple desire to get a lot done in a day morph into declaring oneself God? It’s the sin nature inside us that’s plagued mankind ever since Eve first took that bite of forbidden fruit in the Garden. What tactic did the serpent use to convince her to disobey God’s command? The promise that she would “be like God” (Gen 3:5).

As fallen human beings, we crave power, success, and control. When everything seems to go our way, we call it a good day. When at the end of the week we feel like a grandmaster chess player with complete control of the game, we pat ourselves on the back and call ourselves a raving success.

But what if you looked back on your day and found satisfaction in what Christ accomplished in you and through you? How about chucking that mental file of accomplishments and looking to the Grandmaster of the universe and praise Him for His sovereign control over our lives and world? Maybe you’re wondering:

  • Is it wrong to fill my day with good things?
  • Should I stop creating a daily to-do list?
  • Can I strive for success while still honoring Christ?
  • How can I measure a “good day” and a “bad day” by Christ’s standards?

In an effort to keep in check the motives behind our list-making obsessions, we mustn’t go to the opposite extreme of being lazy, apathetic, or living without drive or purpose. That balance is achieved by embracing grace. Listen and take to heart the words of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery from John 8:

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they [her accusers]? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (vv. 10–11, emphasis mine).

Jesus didn’t say, “Your sins are forgiven. Now go and live as you please.” Nor did He say, “I can’t believe you failed again. When will you ever get it right?” No, Jesus rescued her from her sin by offering grace and wiping clean the sin and guilt that stained her. Then He called her to a life of holy set-apartness, of complete obedience and devotion to Him, through this same enabling grace.

Grace doesn’t end where obedience begins. Obedience is only possible through grace.

Our circumstances will remain in flux, but when we define our value and our measure of success by Christ’s work in us, which He began at the cross and promises to complete when we are with Him in glory (Phil. 1:6), then every day becomes a good day. We can face even terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days with joy because Christ is working in us. We are free to define a good day as one where excellence is pursued, self is left behind, and Christ is magnified!

By Leanna Shepard

Advice to Graduates: Determine Beforehand
Sean McDowell
A Mist
Jodi Hasbrouck
(Under) Cover Girl
The Whatever Girls
3 Things Cheating on a Test Taught Me about Grace
NewSpring Church
When It’s Hard to Be a Christian at School
Revive Our Hearts
Follow Us

Want to access more exclusive iDisciple content?

Upgrade to a Giving Membership today!

Already a member? Login to iDisciple