I don’t know about you, but frankly, I’m getting rather tired of hearing bad news. News of the latest restrictions, updates on Covid-19 infections and deaths, reports on the losing battle against Covid-19 elsewhere, other depressing global news . . . it just goes on and on and on.
To make matters worse, I also keep receiving endless forwarded messages of criticisms and complaints about ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19, both here and elsewhere. Everyone, it would seem, has an opinion on what everyone else is doing wrong—and how they should be doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should stick our heads in the sand and pretend all is well. Bad as the news is, we need to keep aware of what’s going on in our world. Ignorance, denial, or simply thinking that “everything is going to be okay” are not going to make effective Christians.
Having said that, there are times when I feel that I’m getting quite tired of all the negativity. I know the situation is bad, but I can’t help but think: Can you just tell me some good news for a change?
I’m sure some of the ancient Israelites felt the same way. Many of them lived through long periods of hardship, when good news was scarce and bad news aplenty. Whether it was living in slavery in Egypt, wandering around the Sinai desert, or living in exile in Babylon, the bad news just kept coming and coming. It’s not surprising that some fell into the bottomless well of negativity and just decided to give up on life—and God.
Yet, the Bible shows us how God sustained them. Apart from providing for their physical needs, He also supplied their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs through prophets and leaders who came with messages of His comfort, hope, and assurance.
What they needed to do was to stop wallowing in the bad news, and to instead keep their eyes on God their Provider and Deliverer, and remember that He had good news in store. While they still had to navigate the treacherous path of life, they were to draw strength from the knowledge that God was with them and would walk alongside them throughout their journey.
Knowing this has given me a new resolve in trying to counter all the negativity brought on by the endless onslaught of bad news. From now on, I’m going to try to . . .
1. Be more discerning in my reading
While staying in tune with the news—bad or not—is important, I believe we can try to avoid dwelling on things that are not edifying or helpful. This could mean not getting caught up in negative opinions, divisive social media postings, and pointless arguments.
In warning Titus to “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9), Paul may have been referring specifically to arguments over religion, but I believe the wisdom holds for other things too.
Discerning, of course, does not mean denial. Wisdom, perhaps, is knowing a good balance between being aware of what’s going on, without being totally absorbed in—and overwhelmed by—our circumstances.
2. Spend more time soaking myself in God’s Word
The Bible isn’t all “good” news. But it will encourage and strengthen us with truths about God. It will remind us that beyond all the bad news, there is a greater story, and that God the Creator is completely in charge.
Spending more time soaking in God’s Word and reflecting on His character and promises can refresh our perspective of the world and our circumstances, and renew our strength to persevere. Then we will be better equipped to cope with what’s happening around us:
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Bad news is inevitable. Negativity, however, is not. With divine help from God, we can overcome it, for Jesus has said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Lord, You know how worn down I sometimes feel by all the bad news and negativity around me. Please give me wisdom and discernment to know what to read and what not to read, and give me a new passion in Your Word, which will edify, strengthen, and refresh me.