I have a problem. Sometimes it seems that so much bad news comes to my attention that it’s just overwhelming to me. For example, every day when I watch the TV news or read the newspaper there is a story about somebody being murdered in the nearby city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You’ve heard of Philadelphia, right? You know – “the city of brotherly love”. I read recently that there has been an average of almost one murder per day since the beginning of the year. It’s like the old wild west over there. Add to that the news about the fear and reality of terrorism and war around the world, the development of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea, and what seems to be intentionally hostile political partisanship in the USA (on the part of both political parties), which prevents government leaders from accomplishing anything else but condemn each other. Hunger, poverty, weather related disasters – the list goes on and on – all around the world – every day.
Here’s my problem. The purpose of this blog is to give messages of hope to you. But sometimes the news is so bad that I find myself saying, “there is no hope”. That happened to me as I started writing this blog. I asked myself, “If I’m feeling overwhelmed by the bad news I’ve heard and read over the past day or two, how can I help other people have hope?” So I did some praying about it, expecting that God would give me some insight that would be helpful to myself and to others. And God answered. Actually, God didn’t tell me anything new. Instead, He reminded me about what I already knew.
So here’s what I already knew, which I hope will also be helpful to you on those really bad news days. First of all, I have to be honest, you don’t have to search for bad news. It’s always there. Yes, I believe there will come a time when what some of us pray for in The Lord’s Prayer will be fulfilled – God’s kingdom will come on earth earth as it is in heaven. There will be a new heaven and a new earth where there will be nothing but good news of peace, love and joy.
I believe that will happen in God’s way and God’s time. Until then, we are going to be living in a world where bad news is a reality every day. At the same time, there will always be good news in the midst of bad news. Actually, I believe there might already much more good news than bad news in our world. But it’s dificult to see this. Because the news media knows that bad news gets our attention. So they make sure that the TV newscasts and newspapers start with and spend most of their time and space on bad news. But I have discovered that if you look and listen carefully, good news is also being reported. You just have to know where and when to find it. And where do you find this good news? I find that it tends to be on the last few pages of the newspapers and at the end of the TV newscasts. Sometimes they are called human interest stories. What makes them interesting is that they are actually stories about human beings in the process of demonstrating good news.
It used to bother me that the good news stories usually came at the end. But then I began thinking that might actually be a good thing. It’s like reading a story in a book or watching it on TV. Most of the story is filled with bad news. To the point where you have figured out that there’s going to be a really tragic ending. But finally, as the story nears its closing, something unexpected takes place, and it turns out to be a “good news” story. Sometimes whatever it is that changes happens suddenly. Or it might be that the something is happening so gradually all through the story, that we don’t realize a movement toward good news has been in progress all along. Either way, we are surprised that our hope for good news has been fulfilled. Now I try to think of the newspaper and TV newscast as telling an ongoing story about the world. They start with and take up most of the time and space with bad news, but then close with good news.
I listen to the ABC TV network news at 6:30PM, where Diane Sawyer is the anchor person. Of course, she usually spends much of the half hour on bad news. But even then, she often inserts some good news. But what I really appreciate about her is that she intentionally has a good news story at the end of every newscast. Not only does she leave us with good news, but she seems to enjoy doing so. Which means to me that she herself is good news.
Even though I sometimes find myself feeling overwhelmed by bad news, I have always come back to the firm belief that my hope for good news in the midst of bad news will always be fulfilled. My continuing faith in God as the giver of good news, has always renewed my hope that there would again be good news. God uses all kinds of channels to give me that hope – newspapers and TV newscasts, routine events in my daily living, talks with family and friends, etc. But God ultimately uses the Bible to tell His good news story.
Make no mistake about it. The Bible is filled with bad news stories. But the basic mesage is that despite the bad news, it will not prevail. The good news that God so loved the world, (which includes you and me) is, was, and will always prevail. God’s message is that there has never been a time when our hope for good news has not been fulfilled.
When God decided to create the universe, that was good news. There was hope for the universe, including you and me. Despite all the bad news recorded in the Bible and history in general down through the ages, God reminds us that there has always been good news and hope for the future. When God came into the world in the form of a man named Jesus, He brought good news and hope for all people. Finally, the Bible closes, just as it opened, with good news and hope. God promises that ultimately, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. All things, and all people, will be made new. And we will live forever, as a new people in a new and transformed state of being, where there will be no more bad news. There will be nothing but good news. Forever.
I don’t know why God didn’t make that happen in the beginning. I don’t know why God doesn’t make that happen right now. I suppose it has something to do with the idea that you don’t really appreciate good news, unless you have first had some experience with bad news. As one of my seminary professors told us whenever we asked an unanswerable question about why God did or didn’t do something, “I don’t know, ask Him when you get there”. I might just do that. Until then, I have faith that in the here and now, no matter how bad things look or feel, no matter how hopeless things seem to be, I will be justified in being able able to search for, find and experience good news in the midst of bad news. I am sure that my hope, as long as it is in agreement with God’s will, will be fulfilled, as it has been in the past, for me and others, over and over again, down through the ages.
Tonight I will again listen to Diane Sawyer report the news. Most of it will probably be bad news. But no matter how bad it is, I know God will give her some good news to be reported. I thank God for good news and for giving us people like Diane Sawyer, who faithfully report the good news in the midst of the bad news, thus giving us hope, which will eventually be fulfilled.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray