“What day is it?”
If you’ve suffered an injury or stroke and find yourself in the ER, you might hear that question, along with “Who is the president?” and “When were you born?” It’s as if you’re being asked to pinpoint your location in the timeline of your life. If you’re suffering from symptoms called schizophrenia, you’re asking, too. Tell me my location in the timeline of this sickness. How many days until this ends?
Days of Our Lives
In the bible you’ll find specific types of days noted:
the first day
the last day
the evil day
the good day
the day of redemption
the day of the Lord’s vengeance
the days of affliction
the day your mourning is ended
the day you are no longer ashamed
the day of His power
the day of small things
days of feasting
days of adversity
the days of the years of your pilgrimage
Your life and mine includes an assortment of these days, but illness often keeps us focused on the last day of our troubles. The timelines of two lives in the Bible might help us to endure with hope.
Joseph Gets Sold
At age 17 Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit, sold him, and faked his death to deceive their father. Twenty years lapsed before the family met and reconciled. During those twenty years Joseph served as a slave far from home, was falsely imprisoned, and moved up the political ladder, by God’s grace, to a position of power.
Only at the age of 37, on the day his brothers reappeared in his life, could he finally see how God sent him ahead into Egypt to save their lives. If his testy brothers had not sold him to a passing caravan of traders he would not have become second in command over the land of Egypt. He controlled the nation’s stockpiled food supply—during a famine that extended past Egypt to the land of his hungry father, brothers, and their families. Their last day of hunger came after a good day of reconciliation.
During those years of Joseph’s pilgrimage every day was part of God’s plan for a nation’s creation (Israel) and survival. Not one person involved in Joseph’s life grasped God’s plan; Joseph’s life wasn’t just about Joseph. Do you believe your life is just about you? How can you know for sure it is not?
Paul Gets Busted
Realistically, not many of us will become pivotal to a nation’s survival, but we will affect the lives of those along our path. After rising to the rank of Pharisee, perfect Paul had a great fall and converted to Christianity. For 13 years he lived a quiet life before facing a 15-year stretch that included beatings, shipwreck, persecution, poverty, and anxiety. One day in his timeline became the first day to someone else…
On Paul’s second missionary journey, after staying in Philippi “certain days,” a woman of divination followed him “many days” and Paul landed in jail the day he cast a demonic spirit out of her. At midnight he prayed and an earthquake shook his prison doors open to the amazement of the jailer who fell to his knees with a repentant heart. The jailer converted to Christianity and the two men went home together where more lives changed as a result of Paul’s surprise visit.
The chain of events which preceded the day of the jailer’s divine salvation included the last day of a fortune teller’s witchery, and a disciple’s stint in jail while on his second trip abroad. Coincidence or divine orchestration? Have you noticed any coincidences in your life that seemed to have divine results, either for you or for someone else? (Perhaps during your second or fifth hospitalization?)
Because we each live in relation to other people, to a country, and to a time in history, the timing of our life’s events intertwines with the lives of others.
For example, your location in the historical timeline of treatments for mental illnesses comes at a point of upheaval in our country (and the world) after a half century of deinstitutionalization and heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals. Your experience with poor treatment could contribute to the push for change.
As for your location in the timeline of your life, no one can tell yet when the days of affliction will end, when the day comes when you are no longer ashamed, or when the day of His power will manifest itself. For whatever days you find yourself in now, Paul said to center in on whatever is lovely, whatever is good, and whatever has any element of praise. Find a speck of value and seize it.
As for your location in the timeline of the lives of others, let us pray:
Lord, the uncertainty of life scares me and I do not like these days of affliction. Even so, give me the joy of knowing you will glorify yourself through my life. May others see you at work in the midst of chaos and “impossibility.” May they see evidences of your gracious provisions for me, your divine intervention when my life becomes endangered, you upholding of my family. May they see at this time in history you are alive. Shake up their timeline, divinely, because of me. Amen.