Ever had a day that wasn't horrible, but wasn't so great? I have. A couple of days ago, in fact. It was one of those long days. I had to jump into work early and stay late. I worked on a writing project where the words didn't sparkle. A lunch meeting to explore a ministry opportunity resulted in being with a guy for an hour that I just didn't connect with. I had to turn in work to meet a deadline that really wasn't my best. Three meetings were scheduled late in the day. In one of the meetings, some issues surfaced I wasn't aware of but I was responsible for. That's always fun.
I didn't leave work until about 9:30 and had to go by the store on the way home to make sure we had green beans for the dog (I know, it's strange). After gobbling a sandwich, I made the mistake of checking my email. One contained news I wasn't happy about, but I would have to live with. I decided to relax by watching some TV. The news came on. The lead story was about a terrible tragedy. The next story was about political posturing. None of this made me feel better.
It wasn't a horrible day; my children and wife were all still alive. There was still money in my bank account. My dogs still loved me - if I fed them green beans and gave them belly rubs, of course. Still, I was tempted to be grumpy.
Do you know this temptation? Grumpy is a low-grade form of anger. We get angry because we can't meet our own expectations. We get angry because other people don't meet our expectations. We get angry because we can't control situations we'd like to control. We get angry because we have responsibilities. We get angry because this world is not the way it should be Or am I the only one who gets grumpy/angry?
There is a small Post-it note in my study that reads "The most spiritual thing you will do today is choose." To be grumpy is a choice. To hope is a choice.
What does it mean to hope? To hope is to trust good is coming while waiting non-anxiously. Can you hope when the day isn't going so great? It's your choice.
When the day is long, you can choose to go through it with hope, trusting good will come from your labor. When projects don't come together, you can choose hope and trust that it will come together at the right time. When the news is bad, you can choose hope and trust that God is at work behind the scenes in ways you do not see.
You may not feel hope at first; but hope is more than a feeling. It is an orientation. It is taking a longer look at life. It is finding value in life, in work, in people and in yourself.
I admit I went to bed grumpy that night, and I woke the next morning with a grumpy hangover. As the cobwebs started to clear themselves from my mind, I felt the Spirit whisper to me, "Your choice today Clay. Stay grumpy. Choose hope. You decide."
It's the same choice you face. Sometimes, the question is not just "what would Jesus do?" but, what would Jesus choose.
Hope. Jesus always chooses hope.
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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