We all have them. It can start early in the morning after you oversleep and now your late as you rush the kids to school. It can begin during your lunch hour when your coworker keeps disagreeing with everything you say. Or it can come out of nowhere as you try to control your temper during an unexpected traffic jam on the way home from a long work week.
The infamous “bad day” discriminates against no one. These days make us feel so helpless. It just seems like no matter how hard you try, annoying stuff just keeps happening. So what can be done? What does the Bible say about having a bad day?
While the Bible certainly does not talk about how to overcome bad days, it does give a lot of information about joy, perseverance, and overcoming evil. So here are 16 biblical ways you can fight back next time you get assaulted by a “bad day.”
1. Compartmentalize Bad Experiences
“Compartmentalizing” is usually frowned upon. But when used properly, keeping certain experiences in their rightful place brings a lot of freedom. A bad day always starts with a bad event. And a lot of times our bad moods from this bad event cause us to create more bad experiences as the day goes on.
One minute Jesus was getting verbally assaulted by the Pharisees, but then the next minute he was healing someone. He didn’t let one bad experience spill over into the rest of his day.
So rather than saying “I’m having a bad day,” perhaps say “My car just broke down and I’m bummed about that.” A “bad day” labels 24 hours when “My car broke down” labels a few hours. Don’t let one experience ruin all of your experiences in a day.
2. Forgive Offenses ASAP
Nothing produces a bad day quite like being sinned against and disrespected. When we don’t forgive people, it’s so easy to project our hurt and anger onto other people.
What we often neglect to see is that a lot of times our “bad day” is not worse than other days; sometimes we just have less grace and patience to handle the annoying things that happen in a normal day. When we don’t forgive right away, negative feelings linger in us and we project all that onto other people. When you are angry at someone, you are less equipped to handle other daily issues.
3. Pay Attention to the Tone of Your Voice
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The way we say things matters. A bad day snowballs out of control when we allow something that happened earlier to creep into the tone of our voices, causing everyone to respond poorly to the annoyance they hear in our words.
Other people don’t know what happened to you. They just know that when you speak harshly to them, they are offended and will likely lash back out at you, thus perpetuating your bad day. To stop a bad day, intentionally speak much more calmly and softly than you normally would so you give yourself the best chance at being well received by others.
4. Don’t Complain
For whatever reason, there are days in life where it’s not your bad mood or harsh words causing other people to be rude to you. Perhaps it’s just random, spiritual warfare, or God allowing tests in your life.
Whatever the reason, complaining only makes matters worse. When we complain, we magnify the issue in our heads by giving it more time and attention. Complaining is like pumping oxygen into a fire. It just gives your bad day more fuel to keep burning. Sometimes the fastest way to get through a bad day is to not talk about it so much. Forgive people, share your burdens with other Christians, but then move on.
Paul said, “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14). The “everything” in this verse includes getting through a bad day.
5. Share Your Burdens With a Good Friend
Galatians 6: 2 states, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
There’s a difference between complaining and confiding in a friend. Complaining is just throwing accusations at other people or playing the victim card when challenging things happen. Confiding in a friend is when you are seeking real encouragement and advice on how to proceed forward. As Christians, we need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
6. Remember Your Problems Are Not that Special
1 Peter 5:9 is a verse that speaks specifically about resisting the devil. But the principle Peter states here applies to getting through more than just spiritual warfare. He says we must remember “that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
Knowing you are not the only person to go through what you are going through helps you get through it. You are a special and unique person, but your problems are not that special and unique. Don’t give your bad days more power than they deserve.
7. Pray More
Like Job, we will not always know the reasons for why certain things happen in our lives. What we do know is that God desires to use everything in our lives to draw us closer to him. It may sound like the Christian cliché thing to say, but just because it’s become cliché doesn’t mean prayer isn’t immensely powerful.
Philippians 4:6-7 says we are to pray about everything. But there is no promise in this passage that all our problems will now go away. The promise is that the peace of God which transcends understanding will come down on us when we pray. Prayer may not change your external circumstances. But prayer will always change you.
8. Share the Gospel
Your roof can start leaking, you can get a speeding ticket, you can forget to DVR your favorite TV show, and your dog can chew up your favorite leather boots, but after you share the gospel with someone you won’t feel like you had a bad day.
Even if the person you witness to doesn’t receive it that well, knowing you obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) will trump anything annoying that happens that day.
9. Take Care of Your Physical Needs
Sometimes Christians like to overcomplicate things. The reality is that God has given us a body which has certain needs. If you are hungry, thirsty, tired, or haven’t gotten your heart rate up in a while, you are not going to feel very good.
When Timothy had a stomach problem, Paul didn’t neglect common sense. He told him to drink a little wine to help (1 Timothy 5:23). Likewise, we should pray about everything, but if you are lacking a practical need, then be practical and address that need.
10. Think Better Thoughts
There’s reality and then there’s our perception of reality. When our thoughts are dark and ominous, our outlook on life will be the same. Romans 8:6 explains, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” We need to fill our minds with only things that are worthy to be in our minds (Philippians 4:8).
To fill your mind with God honoring thoughts listen to a sermon, memorize a Bible verse, or listen to worship music. Be intentional and fill your mind with good to overcome a bad day.
I truly believe God has a sense of humor. Anything a baby does before the age of one, like laughing, I generally consider to be an unlearned natural trait given from God. Even as you look at animals roughhousing and playing with each other, clearly our Creator loves humor.
So as long as you are not laughing at things that are dishonoring or sinful, to overcome a bad day you should seek out things you find funny. Watch ridiculous cat videos on Youtube, play a practical joke on your spouse, or watch your favorite comedy. There’s a time to cry and a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4), and sometimes to get through a bad day you might need to do both, just don’t forget to laugh too.
12. Resist Giving Yourself a “Free Pass” on Sinful Indulgences
After you get home from a bad day, those “little indulgences” you know God is telling you to give up are even more tempting than normal. Don’t give yourself a free pass on breaking your new diet, watching immoral content, or drinking too much wine. Whenever you compromise on your convictions to make yourself feel better, in the long-run you are just going to make yourself feel worse.
It’s okay to have a bowl of ice cream and watch a few hours of TV to unwind now and then. Just don’t eat the whole carton as you binge watch a whole series on Netflix for fifteen hours straight.
1 John 5:21 (NLT), “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”
13. Read the Bible
Reading the Bible on a bad day is a lot like going to the gym when you don’t feel like it. It’s painful to start, but once you get going you realize this was the day you needed it the most.
We should read the Bible daily, but reading it extra on a bad day helps our minds, quiets our spirits, and gives us the direction we need. It’s amazing how often God will lead us to the perfect verse to get us through a trial, but we first need to open our Bible for God to lead us in this way.
James 1:25 (NIV), “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
14. Encourage Someone Else
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 explains, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Even if we are having a bad day, we always have hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But sometimes to really experience this hope in our own lives, we need to encourage others with it. If you’re going through a rough time, you’d be surprised at how much relief you will bring to yourself if you call someone with the sole intention of listening to their problems and encouraging them.
15. Random Acts of Kindness
Fight a bad day by doing good. Romans 12:21 states, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Galatians 6:9-10 explains, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
If you see an elderly person loading their groceries into their car, offer to help. Leave an extra large tip for your waitress. Mow the lawn of that single mom across the street. Offer to babysit someone’s children so they can go on a date with their spouse.
16. Remember the Good News
Everything bad in this world should cause us to have a deepening appreciation for the Good News. Without Christ, we have no hope. But through Christ, no matter what happens, we always have hope. We are saved through faith and by God’s grace, and sometimes to overcome trials in life we need to dwell on these deep gospel truths more often.
These are just some of the endless ways you can try to overcome a bad day. The big takeaway is this: If you’re having a bad day, don’t be a victim. Fight back by doing good.