A long-time favorite children’s book of mine is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Alexander, the protagonist in this story, is a young lad who gets out on the wrong side of his bed one morning. He encounters difficulty all day long from his tooth paste tube being empty in the morning to having to wear his striped railroad pajamas for bed that evening. He then wishes he could just move to Australia to escape the bad. His mother gently reminds him that “some days are like that even in Australia.”
Recently my day started out similarly one Saturday morning. I threw some laundry into the washer. At some point I heard a terrible, knocking racket coming from a vibrating washer as it began the final spin cycle. Initially I assumed that the laundry was unevenly distributed. I opened the lid and readjusted the laundry. I closed the lid; I reset the dial. The same thing happened. I shut off my washer again.
Probably most married women in that moment would call their husbands into the laundry room to fix the washer. Since I don’t have a husband, I did what I usually do in such situations– I pray. My prayer went something like this in a rather anxious tone: Lord Jesus, You know all about washers and what makes them work. You know what the problem is, and I ask that you fix it. I paused and then I added, “Holy Spirit, show me what to do.”
Hesitantly I tried again, wondering if there would be some amazing miracle after this prayer. No immediate prayer miracle fixed the washer. I decided to try my mechanical abilities. I jerked open the lid, and poked around inside. The thought came to me to pull up the agitator which was firmly fastened to its moorings. I soon realized that should I be able to loosen it, the bottom part would be too large to pull through the lid’s opening anyway. I kept poking around and discovered that the inside tub rocked from side to side with some pressure. Was this normal? I didn’t know.
Then not knowing what else to do, I figured I had two options. One, I could take my laundry to the neighbors and spin dry it, or I could just let the washer finish the spin cycle despite the racket. I decided on the latter. What does it matter if it makes a racket if it gets my laundry done? (Doesn’t that just sound like a woman’s logic?) In a few minutes the knocking noise went from bad to worse. It was as though a giant picked up the washer and was shaking the washer with ferocious strength. Something told me that this decision probably was not a very good idea. I turned off the washer, and looked at my sopping laundry in dismay. I didn’t think I had time to run to do laundry elsewhere, so I decided to squeeze out the towels and sheets by hand over the sink. The dryer would have to work extra hard this morning.
That was not the only thing that happened that morning. I have a walk-in closet. Last fall my nephew graciously replaced a light that had gone bad. It was still dark when I walked into the closet after the washer ordeal. I groped for the light string and could not feel it. I opened the blinds to give some early morning light, and sure enough there was no string dangling from the light. Whatever happened to it? Surely two things couldn’t go wrong within the hour. But there it was, like a little twisted spaghetti strip lying on the floor near my shoes.
As the morning grew lighter, I opened my living room curtains and looked out into the dismal, dreary morning. It was a grim reminder of what I had seen the day before. My rose-of-Sharon tree in burst of full bloom had been ruined by the rain and wind the day before. The branches which had uniformly reached skyward were all askew. Some were drooping, others twisted into each other, still others stuck straight out. Such a sorry sight of a tree!
As I turned away from the window, I felt discouraged. A broken washer, a broken string, and a broken tree began my day. There were three things that weren’t how I wanted them to be in my world that morning. I felt a bit anxious. How much money would I have to spend for the washer? How would I get my light fixed? What should I do with the tree?
I had two options in that moment. I could choose Alexander’s world of seeing difficulties as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing or I could thank God Almighty- El Shaddia, the Powerful One who transforms difficulties for His glory. Nothing escapes His eyes. His watchful eyes see everything that happens in this world. I chose to lift my eyes upward instead of outward. Within a few days, three miracles happened.
A friend was visiting for the weekend and she knew about rose-of-Sharon trees. She said you have to keep them trimmed, and she trimmed off the branches and once again the branches reach skyward. My nephew stopped by and attached the string to the pull light. And my washer. . . a trustworthy repair man came to check out my washer and
only charged a $40.00 service call. He determined that my washer had vibrated off the block that made my washer level. (Washers need to stay level so that the inner tub will stay balanced!)
Yes, we have difficult days and miracle days. I also have a God whose eye is turned toward the helpless no matter where we are and what we are facing- even in Australia.
Sing unto God, sing praises to his name:
extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH,
and rejoice before him.
A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows,
is God in his holy habitation.
I love the tie-ins with Alexander! 🙂 Amazing how we grown-ups still carry the expectation that “somewhere else” life would be perfect. Thank you for letting us into your story of frustration, and the bountiful provision of Jesus!
Oh, how I love this post–so true and yet so hard to do in the overwhelming moments!