What is the worst news you have ever heard? More than likely what you are thinking of now is something very personal and possibly even very private. It may not be something you like to remember because of the great pain associated with the event.
I recall a vivid event in my childhood in the mid 1970s when my grandfather died. As far as I remember my childhood was absent of death until this horrible day. My family came back from a soccer game and I remember my father telling us the news. It did not seem to register in my 8 year-old mind until I saw my 13 year-old sister sobbing. Many times pain does not become real until you see it in someone else.
Sin in the world guarantees pain and difficulties. No one is immune to this problem that is common to every man, woman, boy and girl on the planet.
How should we respond when we hear bad news? The Bible gives us at least three responses that help:
The first is to not fear. Psalm 112:7 says, “He will have no fear of bad news…” We will worship (or give our hearts to) who or what we fear the most. If we fear God, we will worship him. If we fear bad news, we will worship it. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18a). The kind of fear that isnot of God can grip our hearts and cause us to sink into despair and misery. We must learn to properly fear God and not the bad news we receive.
Two, be prepared. A heart, in the spiritual and emotional sense, is a very sensitive area of a person. It is an undeniable fact that bad things will happen to us in this life. “Steadfast” means that we are fixed on someone or something and this implies being prepared. Our hearts must be fixed on Jesus Christ so that when these life troubles come our way we will be prepared to face them. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Three, trust in God. As we prepare ourselves for the battles that come, we will not fear but we need someone or something to turn to. The world will tell you to find something within yourself. This will never work over the long-term because you and I are flawed in our very nature. God is waiting for us to turn to him and he will never fail us. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). A straight path does not necessarily mean an easy path, but it is the path best for us.
By nature we tend to run away from pain and heartache. However, God has a great reward waiting for us on the other side of the despair. “Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything” (James 1:2,3).
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at www.OneMaster.org.