Devotion in Motion: The Old Hard Bad Time of Day that parents and caretakers know well

7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. ~ Philemon 1:7  (NKJV) 

By Bro. John L. Cash

Back in the early 1980s, when I was a Bible college student (and my first niece was cutting teeth) I first heard my mother use one of her trademark phrases: “That Old Hard Bad Time of Day”. 

I remember asking her, “Mom, what is ‘That Old Hard Bad Time of Day’ that you’re always talking about?”

She said, “‘The Old Hard Bad Time of Day’ starts about four in the afternoon. The baby has been with Mama all day, and he’s tired of her. Also, by this time the poor mother has exhausted her bag of tricks. The baby is fussy and cranky, and nothing in the universe is fun. It’s time for Daddy to get home from work. The baby will be thrilled to see someone new. Dad will be fresh and cheerful, and he’ll know some new games. The baby will be so happy to see him.”

Now that I’m a stay-at-home-grandpa, I have a much greater understanding of TOHBTOD. Fortunately for me,  Susan and Seth both get off work in the afternoon a little after 4:30. Landon and I watch the clock and count down the minutes. It’s amazing how much joy there is when either of those two get home. It’s like a tiny version of Christmas.

Being in the pastorate, I’ve known a lot of people who were caretakers. I’ve known folks who are caring for their elderly parents, a handicapped child, or a terminally ill spouse, just to mention a few. More often than that, I’ve witnessed young parents who were taking care of a sick baby or growing, active children. All of these are extremely exhausting, confining jobs.

Most of us want to do some good in this world before we die. It’s my belief that one of the most precious and appreciated gifts that we can give is to give care to a caregiver. Sometimes they need help—but more often than that they just need a break or a breath of fresh air.

So, rescue a caregiver whenever the Lord gives you the opportunity. Do your best to make the “hard bad” times easier and better. In doing so you will be truly Christlike.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 32 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He recently retired after 28 years as a Mississippi public schoolteacher, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa with his new grandson, Landon Cash.  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the family often watches “Mother Goose Club” on Netflix during TOHBTOD.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 26), his wife Madeline (age 26), and Seth (23), and his wife Leanne (age 22). You can send him a note at