Not Afraid of Bad News
This past week I had to spend a few days in the hospital. My daughter, who deeply appreciates the writings of C.H. Spurgeon, kindly and insightfully made sure that I had a copy of his classic devotional Morning and Evening with me in my room. When I opened to the morning’s reading on the first day it was ominously entitled “He is not afraid of bad news” – drawing from Psalm 112:7. Not exactly what I was hoping for! But I thought I had better read it. By God’s grace, I did not receive bad news while I was in the hospital. Still, the devotional made a significant impression on me – enough to make me want to share it with you. What follows is a paraphrase that changes much of the language but, I trust, retains the essence:
Christians should not be afraid of bad news. If we are, we are no different from the world. Unbelievers do not have our God to flee to for refuge. They have not seen the evidence of his faithfulness as have we. As such, it is no wonder that they are alarmed and burdened and cowed with fear at the arrival of troubling news. But we profess to be of another spirit. We have been born again to a living hope. Our citizenship is, even now, in heaven. If we are overcome at the advent of bad news, what is the value of the grace we profess to have received? Where is the unwavering confidence in God that is characteristic of the new nature we claim to possess?
If we are filled with alarm like the world upon the arrival of evil tidings, are we not liable to be led into the sins that are so common to those who are going through trying circumstances? Are we not more likely to rebel in our souls against God? Might we not murmur and complain and charge God with dealing too harshly with us? These are sins of unbelief. They are sins of arrogance and presumption, and the witness of Scripture is that they provoke the Lord; consider the faithlessness and doubting of the generation of Israelites who died in the wilderness.
Not only this, but those who are not of faith so often turn to wrong means to escape their difficulties, and we will be pressed to do the same if our faith in the good and righteous providence of God should weaken or fail. We must use times of trial to learn to trust in the Lord and to wait patiently for Him. Our wisest course is to do what Moses did on the shore of the Red Sea: “Stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). If we give way to fear when we hear bad news, we will be unable to face the trouble with the calm composure that prepares the Christian for duty and sustains in adversity. How can we glorify God if we play the coward? Christians in ages long past have literally sung God’s high praises in the midst of the flames, but when we act as if there were no one to help, will our doubting and despondency magnify the Name of the Most High God? So let us take courage, relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of our covenant God, with these words of our Lord as our firm resolve: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).