How to Steward Bad News
A 130-year-old lesson in responding to the ‘evil tidings’ of life
We have all received bad news. And it is certain we will receive more of it in the future.
It might be the daily deluge of news reminding us of the growing ungodliness in our culture, the effects of sin in our society and the expanding reach of evil in our world. Or it might be more personal. A call from our doctor, our boss, our bank, our board chair, our CPA, our lawyer, our spouse, our children, our pastor or a friend, bearing news that ranges from disturbing to tragic.
This blog is about the journey of the faithful steward. This journey is strewn with these types of news events on both the cultural and personal levels. The key question is not whether they will come or from whom they will come, but how we will respond when they come.
I read a daily devotional by Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century British pastor/evangelist. He writes in old English which is both charming and challenging. His message for September 15th has remained in my spirit. It deals with this question of how we respond when we receive ‘evil tidings.’
My post below is my interpretation of Spurgeon’s devotion, translated into more modern language. Please note that Spurgeon spoke plainly and bluntly, and without concern for a political correctness that was still a century away. I want to retain that sharpness even at the risk of possibly causing some offense to our 21st century sensitivities. May his words bless and challenge us.
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings” Psalm 112:7
Follower of Jesus, you ought not to dread when bad news comes because if such news distresses you how are you different from those who don’t believe?
They do not have our God to run to, they have never experienced how faithful he is, so it is no wonder that they are bowed down with alarm and deeply shaken with fear.
But you profess to be of another spirit. You have been born again into a living hope and your heart is now focused on heavenly promises and not earthly things.
So if you are seen to be as distracted as those without faith, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature you claim to possess?
So I say again, if you should be filled with alarm as unbelievers are you run the risk of being led into the sins so common to those without faith facing such trying circumstances. When they are overtaken by bad news they rebel against God, complaining that he has forgotten them or does not exist at all. Will you, by your response to evil tidings, fall into the same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?
These same people who do not share your faith often run after the wrong solutions to escape their difficulties. Will you not do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure?
Trust in the Lord and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, stand still and see the salvation of God. If you give way to fear when bad news comes you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which steadies you for duty and sustains you under adversity.
How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires. So how will your doubting and desponding, as if you had no one to help you, bring glory to God?
Take courage and rely in sure confidence on the faithfulness of your God. For He said, ‘let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’