Some days are just knock-down days.
You know the days I mean: the days where everything finally seems to be on track, all problems solved, everything set to right, the future clear and bright…and then it isn’t. A call or an email or something you forgot knocks you down and you find yourself staring up from the floor, wondering exactly how you got there, and why the once-cheerful day ahead seems cloudy and fraught with tension.
I had a knock-down day last week. My husband and I had just finished filling out all the paperwork for a new house, only to hit a few snags in the process. The snags are manageable, but they soured our excitement; we thought we were finished, with nothing but furniture-buying ahead. Instead we had to make phone calls and wait on emails and we were…well, we were irritated. And that’s what a knock-down day is: not a tragedy, not a disaster, but the tiny little griefs and irritations that eventually topple you.
I know some people lately who have had knock-down days with regard to their health: the doctor’s appointments meant to clear everything up only result in more doctor’s appointments, and one pill get switched out for another. An employee gets one project at work finished only to glance up and see another one coming down the pike. It’s hard to get up from the floor; it’s hard to keep slogging through.
On knock-down days, I turn to a verse that God guided me to long ago in a trying time, Romans 5:35:
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings. Knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Suffering, in other words, forces you to grit your teeth and bear it. What else can you do? But that hunkering down, that act of getting through it, changes us. And as we change, we discover hope that is then rewarded by God’s love. In other words, the knock-down days make us available to God’s love. Something about suffering and struggling through makes us more amenable to God’s Spirit, to be a home for the qualities He wishes to produce in us.
That doesn’t make the knock-down days better. But it gives them purpose. And I find that, if I frame my problems in that light, they sometimes become more bearable. “Why?” I ask. “Why can’t this process just go smoothly?” Because God is interested in you and there are only so many ways to develop character. “Why?” asks the frustrated employee. “Why can’t I have a breather?” Because there’s no other way to learn this.
Jesus, too, had knock-down days. His disciples couldn’t keep anything in their heads for longer than five minutes, constantly got caught up in arguing about who was best, never really grasped his points when He was sharing them, and couldn’t stay awake to keep Him company. People set traps for Him. They followed Him to the point that He had to flee to the water to get a minute alone. But He, too, stuck it out. In His endurance, He became hope, and as we know from his tears in the garden of Gethsemane, there was no other way to do it.
I’m not going to sit here and ask you to embrace knock-down days as a gift. They’re irritating and frustrating. But temper your irritation and frustration with the knowledge that they are not for nothing. The strike of the chisel falls hard on resisting stone, but over time, an elegant form emerges from it.
You are being beautifully made.