When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Ecclesiastes 7:14
"How was your day today?" That's how we typically greet our children, spouses, and friends at the end of the day. And while typically most respond, "fine," the truth is that some days are better than others. Some days we feel like we are walking on air; other days we are down in the dumps. Some days we may receive a good break; other days bring an unexpected disaster. Some days people are nice to us; other days we get rough treatment. Sometimes a day is simply "fine," but usually it's either great or one we'd rather forget.
No matter what kind of day we may be experiencing right now, Ecclesiastes has advice for us on all days. Scripture teaches, "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this . . ." The literal translation of the Hebrew verse varies slightly. It reads: "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, look."
The first part of the verse is easy to understand. We should fully enjoy our good days. We should celebrate them and relish them. Based on the literal translation the Jewish sages explain the latter part of the verse as follows: When we have a bad day, look - for something good in it. As the popular saying goes, "Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day."
When we are feeling down, we should look to what is good in our lives. Turning toward gratitude has an amazing power to lift us up and out of the gutter and back onto solid ground. Moreover, on days that we feel down, we should be on the lookout for the one good thing - or perhaps the many good things - that will happen to us specifically on that very day. God always sends that glimmer of hope, that ray of sunshine, something to lighten the day. We just need to look for it and wait patiently until it arrives.
We can take this idea even further. When we look for the good in even our bad days, we might realize that truly, there are no real bad days. As the verse continues, "God has made the one as well as the other." God makes the days we experience as "good" as well as the ones we experience as "bad." However, everything and every day from God is good just some days it's easier to see than other days.
No matter what kind of day you are experiencing today, look for the good in it. Look for God in it. The more we focus on the good stuff, the less we'll experience the bad stuff, and ultimately we'll see it's all good. Every day is a great day with God.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President