Oscar the Grouch would not have been pleased. The denizen of Sesame Street that lives in a garbage can and sings “I Love Trash,” would have been downright angry.
One Halloween, instead of “suiting up,” my employer asked us to “costume up.” While understanding the company’s desire to provide a bit of whimsy to our guests, I was frustrated figuring out what to wear.
One day, revelation struck…I had a stroke of genius – or so I thought. I’d dress up like a garbage can. I cut slats in a black, heavy-duty lawn garbage bag and then stapled labels from various food products on the bag. Proud of myself for creating an original costume for very little money, I was on Cloud Nine for most of the day.
At the end of my shift, a coworker, really more a friend than a coworker, asked me, “What are you supposed to be?”
To which I happily replied, “A bag of garbage.”
And then he said words that even twenty-five years later still deeply wound me. “How can you think so poorly of yourself that you’d dress like garbage?”
Ouch! That hurt! Especially coming from a friend…his comment personally ruined Halloween for years to come.
The truth was I loved myself so much that I could wear garbage. The magic in my life wasn’t what I happened to be wearing, but what was contained in my heart. And that was something no one could take away.
Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Admittedly, some of my days feel like garbage. Nothing goes right, sorrow overwhelms me and there didn’t seem to be any way out.
The solution, though, is held in that little verse. No matter how low I got, I could always be honest with God. Unfortunately, that occasionally even went as far as blaming God for my predicament. Despite that, the more honestly I conversed with God, the more I saw His love in my life. So even when I started my prayer with anger overflowing in my heart, I generally ended it praising Him for His kindness to me.
And even in my exhaustion, when I felt that no one understood, when the walls were pressing in, I realized that God understood. In Luke 22:44, the Bible describes Christ’s predicament: “and being in agony, He was praying very fervently and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.”
Christ knew bitter anguish. He knew the grief of a friend’s death; he experienced the ridicule of others; he faced the betrayal of a companion. In prayer, I recognized all those things and that’s when His strength began to appear. Even though I didn’t set out to rejoice in the day the Lord had made, my attitude was completely changed through prayer. Pouring my despondency to God, I was reminded that God traded His righteousness – something of immeasurable value – for my sin – something that is totally worthless.