Summary: Dealing with the discouraging situations in life.
When our two kids John and Caitlin who are now in their twenties were only about three and four Sally and I bought them a book and we used to read it to them almost every night. Now, I know you’re probably thinking it was a Bible and we did read that but this one was called, Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Let me read a bit of it for you.
I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on my skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
At breakfast Anthony found a Corvette Stingray car kit in his breakfast cereal box and Nick found a Junior Undercover Agent code ring in his breakfast cereal box but in my breakfast cereal box all I found was breakfast cereal. I think I’ll move to Australia.
In the car pool Mrs. Gibson let Becky have a seat by the window. Audrey and Elliot got seats by the window too. I said I was being scrunched. I said, I was being smushed. I said, if I don’t get a seat by the window I am going to be carsick. No one even answered. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
After many more unfortunate incidents Alexander ends the day by saying, my bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain and I had to wear my rail-road train pyjamas. I hate my rail-road train pyjamas. It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that, even in Australia.
We’ve all had those days and sometimes the problem is; those days can stretch into weeks. And regardless of the quality of our spiritual lives, our personality type or even our financial status, all of us will experience times of discouragement. People will let us down, our plans won’t work out the way we wished they would and difficult things can happen that are simply beyond our control. And the result is; we will be discouraged. And if too much comes our way too fast or we don’t handle the disappointments of life properly our discouragement can turn to depression and even despair and we’ll begin to feel like life has no meaning or purpose.
For instance, often a sense of depression comes from criticism we receive that we feel is unjustified.
There was a man named Robert Fulton who invented the first steamboat but for some reason no one seemed to want him to succeed. The day he launched this boat people lined the river bank while the workers tried to get the engine started and they all shouted in unison, it will never start, it will never start. And when the steamboat finally start and began heading down the river they yelled, it will never stop, it will never stop. So, some people are going to get criticized no matter what they do.
So, what I want to do this morning is to direct your attention to a few biblical and historical examples of people who had reason to be discouraged and see how and where they found the strength to go on.
The first one is Joseph and you all know the story of Joseph’s coat of many colors. Well, this coat wasn’t just something he wore to look good or be fashionable but this coat indicated that he had been chosen by his father to inherit all the blessings that were intended for the firstborn. So, not only was he his father’s favourite but he had also received dreams from God and they indicated that he would be a great leader someday.
Well, his brother’s resented him because he was his father’s favourite and they were also bitter because they felt like his dreams were a put down.
So, we could say that both the promises of God and the love shown by his father would be the cause of a lot of his problems but they’d also be the source of his strength in the years that lay ahead.
First, he experienced the ultimate rejection from his brothers when they planned to kill him but ended up selling him as a slave to an Arab caravan and they sold him as a slave to Potipher who was another Arab. And for someone who was born and raised in an orthodox Jewish home this was a fate worse than death itself. After all, every Jew knew that God had chosen Isaac who was the Jewish patriarch over his brother Ishmael who was the forefather of the Arabs and to be a slave with Ishmael’s crowd simply meant you were on the losing side.