What Do You Do On The Worst Day Of Your Life?
Maybe it was (or will be) a sudden death, bleak diagnosis, messy divorce, economic deprivation, institutional deception, spiritual desolation, or painful desertion which occurs to you or those you love. Many things might initiate this challenging season in your life. What do you do on the worst day of your life?
Cliche answers immediately spring to mind. Pray. Make a list of life’s blessings. Reach out to family and close friends. Soak in scripture or devotional writings. Get outside and take in God’s creation. Make an appointment with a pastor and a therapist.
Crisis answers also creep up from lived experience. Give God radio silence. Start to believe this tragedy will infect every area of my life. Close off to loved ones. Drown myself in intense experiences of food, drink, shopping, lust, or binge Netflix watching. Stay in bed all day. Make excuses to avoid reaching out to compassionate, experienced, and life-giving experts.
The Hebrew people had a “Worst Day” of their communal lives. Specifically, it would be the day the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. More generally, it would be their collective experience of being conquered and going into exile.
They were God’s People. God had promised to be with them and literally dwell with them in the Temple. Yet their faith had been deconstructed with every brick in the Temple which was torn down. How could they be God’s People carrying out God’s dream if their land was conquered, their government collapsed, and their holy place of worship was demolished?
The prophet Ezekiel was taken captive with the first wave of exiles. His prophetic work reflects the trauma of someone who had survived this wrenching experience of dislocation and disillusion. The first chapter of his prophetic scroll is a bizarre, otherworldly, psychedelic vision ending in him falling to the ground. We find Ezekiel collapsed, facedown on the floor when the Spirit of God inhabits his being and raises him to his feet.
If you and I were Ezekiel, then we might have hoped that this Spirit inhabiting moment was the beginning of easier times. Instead, Ezekiel is commissioned into work with an obstinate, stubborn, and rebellious people. Furthermore, there is no promise these people will listen or respond to his message. When it rains, it pours. Ezekiel is a strange and unnerving look at walking in faith through incomprehensible tragedy, suffering, and disillusionment. It is a reminder both of God’s nearness in challenging times and that God’s Presence does not shield us from enduring immense and unsettling loss.