Four Things I’m Learning in a Hard Season: When the News Could Be Bad

This is the fourth post in a series about what God is currently teaching me about walking with Him in a hard season. You can read the first three posts using the links below

  1. God gives the grace I need for each day, not a one-shot lifetime supply.
  2. This is the race that God has marked out for me.
  3. There is joy in giving out of emptiness.
  4. Because of God’s promises, the fear of bad news doesn’t have the same power over me.

As someone currently in a season where my primary fear is specific bad news, Psalm 112:7 has been something I’ve clung to.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Those that peddle a gospel guaranteeing health, wealth, and happy outcomes for those who have enough faith would distort these words to promise no bad news if I just believe. Human experience, the rest of scripture, and the verse itself say otherwise.

The truth is that I’ve had enough bad news and witnessed enough people I love of deep and sincere faith receive bad news to know better. The whole counsel of God’s Word says otherwise as the only perfect man who ever lived and dwelled in perfect communion with the Father through perfect faith suffered more than anyone else on the cross. This happened even after through words of deep sorrow and anguish He asked His father to take the cup away from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. I also find this same Man’s words in John 16:33 reassuring.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

You see, words that guarantee a life of Christian ease might feel good in the moment, but their falseness is more than empty, it’s damaging. The true Gospel is Good News not because it promises that my earthly worst-case scenario won’t play out. It is Good News because my eternal worst-case scenario can’t. It is Good News because my faith gives context for suffering; it agrees that this world is not the way it’s supposed to be. It is good news because it tells me that the sin, death, and the brokenness we all experience will not have the last word. It is good news because in the words of Psalm 23:4,

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

When I find myself walking through what another translation calls the valley of the shadow of death, I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid not because I won’t ever find myself there, but because HE IS WITH ME.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord means that even if I get bad news, my heart can be steadfast because I have a God I can trust. It means that as 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, I can grieve but that my grief can be different because I have lasting hope.

The Gospel offers more than the trite clichés of this world. It gives my feet something solid to stand on if and when I get bad news. In fact, it even provides good news when my heart and faith feel more wobbly than steadfast.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

Like the Psalmist, I can cry out to the One who is steadfast when my heart is not.

According to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Psalm 25:7b

I can trust the One whose love is steadfast not because I won’t know affliction or distress, but because if/when I experience those things, He sees and knows.

I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.
Psalm 31:7

I can trust in the One who was steadfast when He faced the hardest circumstance of all—the cross where He was forsaken by His Father in His darkest moment so that I don’t have to be.

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
Luke 9:51

As I look toward a weighty phone call that could very well contain bad news this week, the words of Sandra McCracken’s song Steadfast have brought me great comfort. They’ve brought great comfort because even when my heart fears bad news, even when my steadfastness wavers, His does not.

I will build my house
Whether storm or drought
On the rock that does not move
I will set my hope
In your love, O Lord
And your faithfulness will prove
You are steadfast, steadfast…

 

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