Seventy-five years ago, Percy B. Crawford composed a song that became a popular hymn of testimony. Many of us grew up singing “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”
Now that I’m older, I say, “Oh really?”
The lyric requires a good deal of interpretation. Human lives are filled with emotional ups and downs, including the lives of Christians. Yes, there are sweet days, but there are also bitter days. And days filled with deep heart-rending grief. Days boiling over with frustration and anger. Days of freezing fears and doubts. Bible believing, Jesus following Christians are not exempt.
It is true that when a Christian suffers loss, pain, grief, frustration, fears and doubts, he can turn to Jesus and He will go through the experience with him. And in that sense every day with Jesus can be made sweet, or at least less bitter, but let’s not pretend that a Christian can go through his whole life with a smile on his face and a consistent stream of happy words coming from his mouth. He cannot. We cannot. Not if we are honest. Not if we are real.
I spoke with a Christian yesterday who told me he had heard hundreds of speeches by leaders of Christian organizations. “They make serving God sound so wonderful,” he said, “but I can think of only ten that were honest and real. The rest were faking it. They turned me off.”
In Ottawa last weekend, I had the privilege of giving the keynote speech at the closing banquet of the Gideons International in Canada centennial convention. Six hundred leaders and delegates from all across Canada heard me tell how God had used my wife and me to learn the Canela language and translate the Bible into it.
Afterwards people came up to me at my book sales table to thank me for being so completely honest in telling my story.
“You told about your deep discouragement, of your being so frustrated with God you turned your back on Him. Thank you for not leaving out that part of the story. I too have felt that way.”
I blogged that story few years ago. Read it here.
Everyone knows that not every day is sweet. We see bitter sadness all around us. Even among Christians. We should not be surprised. Jesus himself promised that in this world we would have trouble. Trouble in itself is not sweet, but overcoming the trouble is. And Jesus also assured us that He has overcome this world with all its trouble. He can help us to endure. We can go through the trouble with Him by our side.
I know. I’ve been there. It took six months of weekly counselling, but Jesus restored the sweetness. Even now, years later, I still don’t like singing “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before,” but I know He can make bitter days sweeter, eventually.
In the meantime, I’m for telling it like it really is.