“Well, It Could Be Worse”
A man went to an investor to ask for a business loan for a new venture he was about to start. The investor said, “Remember, when you took a loan out with us for $50,000 to raise emus and it failed because when all the eggs hatched they were male.” The man said, “well, it could have been worse.” Next we invested in your invention. The DVD/CD rewinder which never sold. This was a loss of $125,000.” Like a broken record the man offered “well, it could have been worse.” And then there was the loan for $100,000, so you could make glow-in-the-dark dog food. It failed.” Once again the entrepreneur offered, “it could have been worse.” The investor became irate at this point. “Three business fail at a loss of over a quarter of a million dollars. Please tell me how it could have been worse.” The man replied, “well, it could have been worse, it could have been my money.”
When someone is having a bad day we often hear these words of comfort: “well, it could be worse.” When your two sons leave for work driving the cars you own and pay insurance on and then collide and total both cars in the parking lot in front of your apartment, someone telling you “well, it could have been worse” does not seem to provide much help.
To be sure things can get worse. Just think, you could be…
• A hungry lion stuck overnight in a den with Daniel.
• A construction worker on the Tower of Babel.
• The third hippo waiting in line to get on the Ark.
• Lot’s next door neighbor in Sodom.
• A sailor on the ship with Jonah, the run-away prophet.
• One of the soldiers with the captain of fifty sent by the King of Israel to fetch Elijah.
• The fatted calf when the prodigal son returned home.
• A pig when Jesus cast out the demons into the herd of swine.
• A soldier commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the “burning fiery furnace.”
• A Philistine partying in the temple of Dagon with blind Samson chained between the two main pillars.
• A neighbor of Noah banging on the door of the ark, crying, “Hey, let me in. I can’t swim.”
• Pharaoh’s chariot driver as they chased the Israelites into the parting of the Red Sea.
You will notice when anyone in the Bible was having a bad day God does not tell them: “well, it could have been worse.” Could you image Jesus telling a man who was lame, “Well, it could be worse. You could also be blind and demon-possessed with leprosy.” I have a feeling that man would not of run off throughout the countryside cheerfully proclaiming all the Jesus had done for him.
When the Israelites were trapped against the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s chariots in hot pursuit, God did not tell Moses, “well, it could be worse.” Instead, the Lord told Moses to “lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Ex. 14:16).
When Judah was laid waste and Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army and King Hezekiah brings the threatening letter from the Assyrians to God, He did not tell him, “well, it could be worse.” Instead God told Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah, “do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” (2 Kings 19:6,7).
Saul of Tarsus had been persecuting Christians. He did this in good conscience believing that the resurrection of Jesus to be a hoax and Christianity blasphemy against God. One day he was on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians. To be sure he was having a very bad day when Jesus appears to him. Saul was struck blind. He asked the Lord what he was to do. Jesus did not say “nothing, just remember it could be worse.” He sent him into Damascus to a street called Straight and there wait to be told what to do. Jesus sent a preacher by the name of Ananias who told Paul, “and now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
There is one redeeming aspect of telling someone who is suffering with a bad day: “well, it could be worse.” He can be thankful that things are not any more atrocious. Being grateful for what you have is important and being grateful that you do not have it as bad as some people do is somewhat comforting. After all, we are to “pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:17-18).
There will come a day when no one can say to the lost soul on Judgment who has just been condemned to Hell, “Well, it could be worse!” No, nothing could every be worse than losing one’s soul.
The next time one of the saints is having a bad day remind them, “it could be better. Christ died for you, and you can be baptized today to wash your sins away” or “Christ could come today and take all His saints away.” (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
– Daniel R. Vess