I had a very bad day—one of those days where I started to wonder if God had disappeared altogether.

It was such a bad day that I was dreading Youth Group tonight, even though it’s usually the highlight of my week. I was a little annoyed that I hadn’t felt God’s presence all day, and I really didn’t want to be around God’s people. I almost called in sick.

But we had a good time. We worked on our “Training Video” (coming soon!) for the South Dakota Mission Trip, and we designed T-shirts, and we hung out and laughed and had fun together. It put me in a little better mood, and I was glad I hadn’t skipped out on the evening.

Then one of the girls showed me a Bible passage, Psalm 18, that she was using on her T-shirt design, and it spoke to me. She had been looking for something else, she said, when she just happened to open the book to the Psalms. She was using The Message translation, which gave fresh voice to an old verse: “They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved, surprised to be loved.” (v. 18-19).

That spoke directly to my bad dayIt reminded me not to get so bogged down in, well, bad days that I forget that God loves us. It didn’t erase the day, but it did help me put it into context.

A fun night at youth group would have been enough. But for God to use a T-shirt design contest, and an accidentally-found Bible verse, and a student brave enough to share it—that was grace when I least expected it.

I stood there tonight, while God’s people swirled around me, and was surprised, again, by how deeply God loves.

Even on a bad day.