Setting sun at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

When bad news has to happen

It feels like I can’t turn on the television or the radio without hearing bad news. Is it just me? Or has the world suddenly gotten darker in the last few weeks? Because it seems to me like more is wrong in today’s world than has ever been wrong before.

People dying. Churches fighting. Towns rioting. Leaders whining. Countries invading. No place feels safe. No person can be trusted. Innocents murdered. Children slaughtered. People starving and frightened and lost.

I try to stay positive. I try to remember that God is in control, but it’s hard to look on the bright side when everything I see is pitch black dark. And then–more bad news. Death. And the worst kind–the kind that could have been prevented but wasn’t because someone was careless.

Breaks my heart. And there’s nothing I can do to fix it. You can’t fix things like that. And you can ask why till you’re blue in the face, and the only answer you’ll get: “Trust me.”

Welcome to the life of a Christ-follower. It’s not all sunshine and daisies. It’s frustrating. Heart wrenching. Because you know the world wasn’t supposed to be this way. You know how things were designed to work. And all you can do is watch the world fall apart and wait for the end to come.

Setting sun at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Setting sun at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

And then, I read Mark 13:5-9.

 Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. When these things begin to happen, watch out!

It’s easy to lose hope when so much bad is happening. It easy to give up when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or the climb has gotten too steep. But there’s something we all need to remember.

No matter how bad the news is, no matter what dark, horrible things happen, we can’t forget that God really is in control.

Yes, these things must take place.

Did you catch that in the passage above? Jesus is talking about a host of really horrible things, explaining to the Disciples what is coming for Israel, and He tells them that all of it must happen.

Why? Why must it happen?

I don’t presume to know why. And nobody–not even Christ–knows when. But we can know for sure that it’s soon. It’s right at the door, as the passage says above.

There has always been bad stuff happening. There has always been bad news. But the news seems worse now than it’s ever been. But don’t you find it at all comforting that it has to happen? No matter how bad the news gets, it’s not a surprise to God. And even though it may be bad news to us–even though it might break our hearts and tear us up inside–that doesn’t mean God can’t turn it around and transform it into good news.

God’s in the business of transformation.

So don’t be afraid of bad news. Hold on when you get the phone call no one ever wants, when it feels like you’ve done everything right and nothing is working. Don’t lose it when you realize just what a horrible state the world is in. It has to happen. It has to get worse before it can get better.

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Live fearless in the face of bad news

This isn’t what I planned to post today. I had a completely different thought in mind, but after the events of yesterday, I don’t think I could post anything else. How often do you wake up and expect that the day is going to be normal? You go to work or school or you stay home and do household chores. Whatever is normal for you. And then life T-bones you. It hits you so hard you can’t stop spinning. And the bad news keeps coming.

That was my Monday. I can’t go into detail. It’s all still awfully fresh. But I needed a strong reminder today to help me face the day with confident hope, and I hope if anyone else reads this, they find it too.

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 112:7-8.

They do not fear bad news;
    they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
They are confident and fearless
    and can face their foes triumphantly.

I’ve posted on this before. Probably more than once, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt it as strongly as I feel it right now. Our world is full of bad news. You can’t turn on the television or the radio or even read a newspaper or a Tweet without realizing how incredibly screwed up our world is. And as much as I wish Christ-followers could be immune, we’re not. We’re floundering in the midst of it with everyone else.

But do we have to flounder? Does the bad news we get have to shake us to the core of who we are?

No. As much as I don’t feel it today, I still believe that bad news doesn’t have to scare us. The news we don’t want to hear doesn’t have to destroy our lives or our families or our futures.

This Psalm is referencing people who revere or worship the Lord. That’s the they in the Psalm. Notice it doesn’t say that people who fear the Lord won’t ever get bad news. No, we all get bad news, no matter what we believe. But those of us who know God through Christ don’t have to see bad news as an end, because we know God has it under control.

It doesn’t mean we don’t mourn. It doesn’t mean we don’t cry. It doesn’t mean we don’t ache inside for the people who are hurting and the families that are facing such enormous heartache. There’s a time for that. And a time to grieve is good and healthy.

Just realize that you don’t have to be afraid of it. We can all trust that God is going to take care of it all, and we can face the challenges in our lives with confidence, fearlessly. Because the worst news we get on Earth can’t even touch the best news we’ve already gotten, and that is hope through Christ. No matter what we face here, no matter the heartache and the sadness and the pain, this world isn’t our final destination. And the day is coming soon when we’ll get to go home, and we won’t have to hear bad news ever again.

But until then, don’t fear it. God’s bigger and stronger, and even if life doesn’t turn out the way you hope, God won’t leave you to walk it alone.

Frozen faucet - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Worshiping bad news

How do you handle bad news? There are a couple of different ways you can look at bad news, but when you get right down do it, bad news is bad news. It means sickness. It means difficulty. It means loss, sometimes of a relationship, sometimes of a life. Bad news comes in different forms, from people to messages to experiences. But no matter how it comes, it always comes.

We can’t escape bad news because we live in a broken world. And most of the time we can’t change bad news because it’s outside of our control. What we can change, is how we react to it.

Frozen faucet - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Frozen faucet - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 112:7.

They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Whenever I run across a verse like this that starts with an anonymous “they” I always want to find out who the verse is talking about. And doubly so in this instance because “they do not fear bad news” is a “they” I would like to know more about. Because if someone doesn’t have to be afraid of bad news, I would like to know what they are doing to be that way.

To find the answer to that question, you have to go to the beginning of the Psalm. Psalm 112:1 says, “How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.” That is the “they” from verse 7. Actually the whole Psalm is talking about how the people who fear the Lord are benefited. What their lives are supposed to look like.

Do you know people who are driven by fear? They’re the people who always think the worst. The glass-is-half-empty types who can imagine the worst case scenario for even the best circumstances. Maybe you know someone who lives in a constant state of anxiety. Maybe that’s you. It’s not fun. Not at all. It controls your thoughts. It controls your actions. It keeps you pinned down in terror, projecting your worst nightmares come to life. And maybe you think you’re protecting the people you care about, but in reality you’re just driving them away. Fear is never a quality that makes someone a good friend.

And there is so much to fear in our world.

We live in a dangerous place. Even those of us “safe in the United States” can come up with myriad dangers that can control our lives. Car wrecks. Cancer. School shootings. Some people fear that they will lose their jobs, and in this economic climate it’s not unlikely. I know many people who have lost their jobs, especially most recently with Boeing pulling out of Wichita. Not old people. These are people with families and mortgages, not old enough to retire but probably not young enough to find another career path.

So how can you handle that kind of bad news without anxiety? How can this verse be true? Because at first glance it doesn’t make a lot of sense. You fear the Lord so you don’t have to fear bad news? Is that what it’s saying?

When I first read this, I thought what I usually think. This fearing the Lord isn’t the same as fearing bad news. In this context, fear of the Lord is more like reverence or worship, according to the Amplified Version. But what if it is the same concept? I don’t speak Hebrew, so obviously I don’t know. But what I do know is American culture. And Americans are good at revering bad news. Because it creates drama. It creates action. It shakes us up, and those who are not affected by the bad news get a show. Or they are entertained. As a culture, we worship bad news.

Even some believers worship bad news in a twisted way. They don’t like it when it comes, but they focus on it. Bad news arrives (because it always will in our broken world), and it stops us in our tracks. And we zone in on it and refuse to move on. And even though we hate it and even though we would give anything to make it go away, we stop and build an altar to it and make daily sacrifices to it. We worship our bad news.

Guess what?

You don’t have to.

When bad news inevitably comes, recognize it and keep moving. You don’t have to stop and build a monument to it. It’s okay to recognize it, but don’t stop your forward momentum. God has us all on a path and wants us to move forward. But so many of us get stuck in a rut mulling over our bad news day after day until we don’t even remember what God had planned for us to begin with.

Bad news can only stop you if you let it. The more you fear it–the more you worship it–the weaker you’ll be and the more time you’ll waste.

Fear God. Recognize that God is the one who can get you through your bad news. Focus on Him. Not on your circumstances. Not on your situation. No on your frustrations. Bad news will come. It always does. But don’t fear it and don’t let it throw you.

You don’t have to be afraid of bad news.