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No fear of bad news

You can’t escape it. Bad news is everywhere. Open the newspaper or turn on the TV, and the bad news will come at you with full force—about the economy; a mass shooting; or another hurricane, devastating flood, or tornado.

Bad news can be personal. I remember getting that phone call in the middle of the night. It was my mother. She said, “Your dad has fallen down the basement steps, and he isn’t moving.” Maybe it will be the doctor’s office calling to tell you that you need surgery. Or your spouse meeting with Human Resources and discovering his or her job has been eliminated.

There’s no question that all of us have had to endure bad news in the past. We’ll hear more bad news today. And even though that wise philosopher Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” there is one prediction that we can make: Bad news will keep coming.

That’s because we live in a broken world, a world once perfect but now corrupted and ruined because of the effects of sin. A world in which Satan will do everything he can to darken our days, dampen our joy, and lead us to become fearful and even despairing.

In Psalm 112, God tells us, “Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands. . . . Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. . . . They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD” (vv. 1-7).

God wants us to be realistic and know that bad news will come. How can we react to that bad news? The psalm writer doesn’t suggest that we ignore the bad news. He doesn’t say that we should try to minimize it. He doesn’t advise that we simply buck up and fatalistically learn to live with it. He tells us something completely different. He tells us that when bad news comes, we don’t need to fear it.

When the psalmist talks about people who fear the Lord, who find delight in his commands, whose hearts are steadfast, he’s talking about us—God’s people by faith—righteous not because we live good lives but righteous by our faith in Christ. We can have peace and confidence no matter what bad news the future may bring.

Even more than that—we can have joy. Why? It’s important to know the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness or unhappiness is an emotion or state of mind that depends on what is happening to us at any given time. When things go well, we are happy. When things go badly, we are not. Happiness comes and goes. But joy is different. Joy is something we have as Christians no matter what the outward circumstances are.

When my father died as a result of that fall, I was not happy—anything but. But at the same time, I was joyful. Even in the midst of that bad news, I had a joy that nothing could shake. I knew that God had taken another faithful believer home. I knew what my Savior had done for my father and me. I knew and trusted all of God’s promises.

Since you have been made righteous by the blood of Christ and have heard and embraced that good news by faith, you have reason not to fear bad news. And when the bad news inevitably comes, let the best news of the gospel fill you with joy that nothing can take away.

Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 110, Number 07
Issue: July 2023

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This entry is part 1 of 52 in the series presidents message

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