How To Handle Bad News

By Fin Sheridan

If there’s one thing that’s readily available in the world right now, it’s bad news. It’s everywhere; with every news cycle brimming with stories of chaos and danger. It produces a climate of fear and anxiety, no matter where you are in the world. It’s not just on a global, big picture scale either.

Every day I meet people who live with a “what if” fear, terrified of unknown yet fully expected bad news. I have to be honest: I find this fear infectious. Maybe you do, too.

When we look to the Bible for comfort, we can find it dressed in a way that we might not expect. Often we are guilty of believing the lies that Christianity means that we no longer experience bad news, or worse, that we should pretend bad news isn’t bad. That’s simply not the case: Psalm 112 is a description of a righteous man and in verses 7-8 we find these words:

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”

“Some of us live in constant anxiety and dread, with an expectation of things going wrong in the worst possible way.”

Even the righteous man (or woman!) will experience bad news – that’s part of living in a fallen world. However, the difference for those of us who know Jesus is our response to this bad news. Our flesh naturally reacts in fear; but, as we follow God, we learn a new response; trust.

Look at the words the Psalmist uses: Not afraid. Firm. Trust. Steady. These are our promised experiences when we trust God through our bad news. The pathway to trusting God is simply accepting that he loves us. He loves me… so he will keep me safe. He loves me… so he will provide. He loves me… so he will make a way. That’s why John, in 1 John 4:18, reminds us that there is no fear in love: knowing God’s love will cause faith and trust to flourish, whilst choking the weeds of fear.

Bad news is inevitable but our reaction to it is a choice. Fear may be our first response but, just like an Olympic diver, we can confidently plunge into the deep pool of the Father’s love for us, which will wash our fears away.

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