A blog by Josh Humbert
I’m going to share with you a quote that is in my “Top 5 Non-Biblical Quotes” category. This quote floored me from the moment I first read it and I’ve held on to it ever since. It is a quote that isn’t mere words to me — I consider this a treasure and something I desperately HOPE will be true of me one day. This means a great deal to me, maybe more than I can sufficiently describe.
But first, let a question confront not just your eyes as you read this page, but let this ask something of your soul. Let this question gain a hearing with you right now, for one day, this WILL be reality for you. The question is simply but crucially this:
What will you do on the worst day of your life?
This isn’t a question to make things morbid but instead to help clarify. I don’t speak of a vague possibility but of a looming certainty. You have been given the incredible gift of life on this planet. Every day you wake up you are unwrapping the present of the present-tense. This existence, this fleeting thing we call a lifetime, is a precious gift.
But, somewhere in all those years you have, somewhere in the midst of the months you are allowed, there will come a specific day. It will be unlike any other in the myriad days you have down here. At some point in your life, you will have the worst day of your life.
There is no way of knowing when it comes. There is no calendar to mark it’s approach. This harsh moment, this worst day of your life, shows up without your approval or consent. You cannot choose when it arrives.
Your response to it, though? That is entirely yours. As a Christian, how you react when this fateful day hits is your choice and it will be one of the most significant choices you make.
On the worst day of your life, you can choose to respond with:
—Anger: This isn’t fair, why is it happening to me? God, You messed up here!
—Doubt: This doesn’t make sense, how could this happen to me? God, are You even there?
—Rebellion: This isn’t what I signed up for, this shouldn’t be happening to me. God, I’m outta here.
Those are three broad categories but they help capture some of the main options for your worst day.
However, there is yet another option for you to consider.
You see, I have this quote I want to share with you.
There was a man named Samuel Brengle who was a Methodist preacher and involved with the Salvation Army back in the early 1900s. He, just like you and me, would have his choice to make when his dark day arrived. Samuel would face the loss of his precious wife.
This quote, this treasure — these are the words of a man who tasted a most bitter pain. Here is what he wrote after the death of his wife:
“If God’s people could look upon their greatest loss as possibly their one and only supreme opportunity throughout an eternity to prove their love and loyalty and to magnify their Lord, and, instead of repining and fainting and rebelling, would look up and rejoice and count it joy for His dear sake, how it would confuse the Devil and astonish hell, rebuke unbelief, and fill the world with light.”
Let me tell you right now: there are not enough fire emoji’s for that truth bomb.
Never has a run-on sentence felt so majestic, so wonderful, and so rich.
What an incredible twist on the idea of the worst day of your life! The most painful moment of your life is, at the very same time, your “one and only supreme opportunity throughout an eternity” to glorify God, confuse the devil, “astonish hell,” encourage others, and “fill the world with light.”
I hold on to that quote because I love it. Because what he writes is true. Because I desperately want that to be true of me when my time comes.
And because my heart is stunned with gladness when I see someone else live it out.
Like this guy…..
At 8pm on a normal Tuesday evening, Ingrid Williams was traveling with three of her five children when her car was struck head-on by another car that came across into her lane. The driver of that car, Susannah Donaldson died. Ingrid Williams died, while her children survived.
Ingrid was the wife of former NBA player and now NBA coach, Monty Williams. Monty is a Christian and has been a great example of faith and character to many.
I can’t speak for Monty but I’m guessing the tragic loss of his wife so unexpectedly would put this Tuesday squarely in the running for Worst Day of His Life.
Would he go to anger? Doubt? Rebellion? Or would he capitalize on his supreme opportunity of pain and loss? I have no idea if Monty knows Samuel Brengle or if he’s ever read the quote that I treasure so much. What I DO know is that Monty Williams is a man of God and he absolutely NAILED his response.
Clips of his speech at Ingrid’s funeral have floated around the internet and if you have not already watched them, do so now. This 7 minutes is real. This 7 minutes is true. Watch this and hear greatness.
THAT makes God look glorious. THAT confuses the devil. THAT rebukes unbelief and fills the world with light.
In a world that’s already full of anger, doubt, and rebellion — Monty’s compassion, perspective, and loyalty are like an explosion of grace.
His response matters. Just like yours and mine will.
One of my favorite bands is the instrumental powerhouse, Explosions In The Sky. Skilled in the ways of writing epics without words, Explosions has mastered and redefined the instrumental genre of music.
Their origin story matters here. Explosions formed in Austin, Texas in the late 90’s when a drummer went to local record stores to hang up posters that read: “Wanted: Sad, Triumphant Rock Band.” Soon, three guys had dinner with that drummer, an “instant connection” was formed, and so began Explosions In The Sky.
And so also began a career of elegantly crafted songs that encapsulate that brief vision statement. If you’ve heard an Explosions record, you’ve heard a Sad, Triumphant Rock Band.
(if you’ve never heard them, start with their record called “The Earth Is Not A Cold, Dead Place.” I’d give a perfect 10 score to less than 5 albums in my life….that is one of them.)
Sad and Triumphant. At the same time. Grief being led by Victory. Sorrow giving way to Winning. A Sad Triumph.
That is what Samuel Brengle gave us. That is what he described. That is what Monty Williams gave us. That is what he demonstrated. Triumph emerging out of sadness.
This is true Gospel living. This is what it means to truly know Christ and worship Him for WHO He is, not just what He provides. This is what glorifies Him, astonishes Hell, rebukes unbelief, and fills the world with light.
As Christians, our hope is in the One person who has walked out of a grave of death. All other religions have some nice ideas and philosophies…we serve the One who has conquered Satan, sin, and death. He ROSE from the dead. That’s a difference-maker. That’s why we KNOW He brings Triumph out of our sadness.
Deep inside each of us, on our very hearts, is a sign posted that says: “Wanted: Savior Who Knows Sadness But Who’s Triumph Is Sure.” We have an undeniable need for Someone who has experienced all our pain and yet, has triumphed over it all.
That’s who Jesus is and that’s what He has done. God with us. Savior for the broken. The Conquering King.
One day, His triumph will be complete. All our losses will be made right. All our tears, He Himself will wipe away.
Pain will be erased. Funerals will be over. Death will die. We will live forever with Jesus because on the Worst Day Of His Life, He was making our salvation possible.
Sadness will come in this life. There will be days of supreme loss. I pray that we also see, through falling tears, that those are moments of supreme opportunity. Those are once-in-a-lifetime chances to fill the world with light.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” May you reflect His glorious light when the darkness closes in. May you shine brightly in a dark world.
May you know and trust His Triumph in the midst of sadness.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are always welcomed. If you like this, please share it. Want more content? Check the archives or hear me on the Cross-Cutting Culture podcast.