This is the book I want with me when all hell breaks loose and I am battling the worst day of my life.
I have had some difficult days, some challenging days, some tearful days, but on the worst day of my life would somebody please hand me a copy of Brian Zahnd's, What to Do on the Worst Day of your Life.
This book is more of a story than a how-to guide. Zahnd retells the biblical story of King David and the tragedy at Ziklag (1 Samuel 30:1-8, 16-20, 26). He masterfully weaves the reader into the story, so that like David, we feel the heartbreak, the disillusionment, the turn-around, the grace-infused renewal, the righteous anger, the thrill of victory, the celebration of recovery, and the proclamation of hope.
King David was having a bad day. As Zahnd tells it: David went bankrupt, had his house burned to the ground, his possessions stolen, and his entire "family kidnapped by terrorists--all in one day [author's emphasis]" (3). For sure this was a bad day, the worst day in David's life up to this point.
Zahnd's retelling of David's story gives us an encouraging template, a heart-stirring testimony of grace and hopes, so that we cannot only endure our own worst days, but reach a place of full recovery. He peppers the retelling of David's story with his own stories of struggle and celebration and he appeals time and time again to the Scripture. (There are 163 biblical references recorded in the "Notes" section in the back of the book.)
As an unfolding story itself, What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life does not offer a picture of naïve optimism or a catalyst for superficial emotionalism. This story is centered on the grace-filled message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Like David during his Ziklag experience, Zahnd explains that Jesus cried our tears, shared in our suffering, and defeated our enemies through the cross and the empty tomb. Because of God's gracious gift of redemption, we can join David in getting a word from God, reorienting our vision, regaining our passion, attacking, and recovering all.
Zahnd uses not only the imagery of "success" and "prosperity," which can so easily be misunderstood in our culture; he also uses the imagery of "beauty"and "restoration." He writes: "Beauty is the final objective of God's gracious work, and ashes seem to be His favorite medium. God is the creator of beauty and a connoisseur of all that is truly beautiful. God is an artist, His canvas is creation, and in our lives tears and ashes are often His oil and clay as a He works relentlessly to make something beautiful" (110).
According to Zahnd, God wants us to fully recover from our worst days, because salvation is "for the restoration of all things to God's original goodness" (96). We can survive our worst days with the hope of the restoration of God's original goodness for our lives. We can recover, but God will weave these "worst days" into our lives so we can rightly give to others and be sources of healing and encouragement for those who are suffering.
I highly recommend What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life. Read it before your worst day hits home. Read it on the worst day of your life and then give it to other people who are suffering during hard times.
This book is a glowing beacon of hope in the fog of uncertainty, discontent, and suffering.
Dr. Derek Vreeland