Finding the Good News in the Bad


Writing doesn’t come easily right now.

Normally, my brain swells with a million post ideas, but at this moment my cranium feels like a bomb went off inside, the reverberations wiping out anything resembling coherent thought. In the last twelve days I’ve spent most of each day standing around asking myself what I’m supposed to do next. Breathe, comes the standard reply.

Every minuscule aspect of life expands to capture your attention when the news is bad. The two days that marked the deaths of my parents remain vivid. I still remember the smothering silence of their house. My brothers and I sat, numbed, and talked minutia. “Too A light in the darknessmany cars in the driveway; the coroner can’t find a place to park.” “Is today Thursday? What day is it?”Other people arrived on the scene and roamed through the house we grew up in, strangers establishing a beachhead from which to do their jobs. And we sat, the world moving around us, pondering how nothing would ever be the same.

When it’s cancer, or the lifelong dream gone up in smoke, or the simple uncertainty of not knowing where the next paycheck will come from , the rest of the world shoots away like the round of a howitzer, leaving us, the empty shell casing, behind. Time distorts, and we’re left with the odd sensation of hours simultaneously passing too fast, yet too slow.

Yet even in the midst of Dali-like clocks melting, truth stands firm:

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
—Romans 5:3-6

At the right time Christ died for the ungodly. At the right time. At our moment of weakness. In the midst of our sin-sick suffering.

From across the cosmos, our infinite God reached down and yanked you and me out of the pit. Us, the ungodly ones. To Him, the pit resembles nothing more than the tiny depression between ridges of a fingerprint. To us, though, it’s the endless shaft left behind by a world set on full bore, a world with no time for laggards, no healing afforded those crushed in its wake.

Yet He was bruised for our iniquities. Therefore, He understands. More to the point, He holds the answers.

If you’re crushed, I’d like to pray for you. Please send me a private e-mail at the address at the top of the sidebar. Many of you know my family’s struggling to overcome some bad news of our own, but I believe that puts us in the perfect position to help others. As I wrote in a previous post, I don’t believe God wants us to waste our suffering. The Lord became like us to know our sorrows, so I believe the sorrowful are best equipped to help others like them.

Counterintuitive? Yes, but how else does the Lord works His greatest miracles?

Be blessed.

9 thoughts on “Finding the Good News in the Bad

  1. I find it interesting that you link the weakness of v. 6 to the suffering of v. 3. I’ve never made that connection before.

    In a recent trial, I leaned upon theology:

    Trusting God even when the situation looks bad, because the word says God is trustworthy;

    Believing in His goodness when tempted to doubt, because the word says God is good;

    Thanking Him when there’s nothing in my circumstance that elicits thanksgiving, because the word says I deserve eternal condemnation.

    Many times, I’ve been captivated by the response of Job: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away [there’s something worth pondering]; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

    I just want to learn to praise God, regardless of my circumstances, because He’s worthy.

    I pray that God, in His mercy, would make a way for you and your family through your current struggle, and supply your needs.

    • Wyeth,

      The balance of circumstances and faith come hard to me because I need to know what to do when certain circumstances arise. Part of this is simply the need to adapt to changing circumstance, the rest is to conform to societal standards of what is proper under those circumstances—peer pressure and legal restrictions, in other words.

      We all must do this, so we cannot say that circumstances don’t matter. The man with a hole in his roof cannot lay back and do nothing, lest the problem grow worse and his whole house collapse. Where faith intersects is when the hole expands, yet the man has no means to fix the problem. At this point, his discontent with the situation must intersect with his faith and the greater reality of how much of this is God’s problem and how much is his.

      I think most Americans fail at this intersection. We’re told we must always do it ourselves. In the case of the man with the hole in the roof, we see his answer as money. This explains why most Americans place more faith in money than in God, yet they claim quite the opposite!

      As I’ve written here many times, God intends the Church to address this. The Spirit-filled Church meets the need of the man with the hole in his roof because they understand that they’ve been given the tools and the charge from God to do that work. That is how God works His will in the world: through the Church.

      If the Church chooses not to do that work, then the man has a problem that may go unfixed and his house collapses. At this point, he has every reason to fret because the very means by which God provides a solution refuses to do the work. And God’s not happy either. He may circumvent the blockage, but that’s not how He intends the process to work.

      When the system works as God intends, then we have no worries. But when it doesn’t…

      We have a lot to learn about how to make that system work in America 2007.

  2. Don Fields


    I’m still praying for you and your family!

    In a very recent time of trial my wife and I were really struck with the truth of Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say, rejoice!”

    Our Sunday School class was and still is studying through Philippians and God used the trial to drive home one of the key thoughts of that wonderful book. We had done pretty good at being content, but were failing miserably with joy. We have learned that when living is Christ (Phil. 1:21) then the circumstances of life cannot steal our joy because we always have Christ. Knowing it and living it are two different things, but God is growing us.

    • Don,

      The balance of contentment and joy is tough. I think it’s possible to have dissimilar amounts of either. I’ve seen “teeth-grinding” contentment before, so I know it exist.

  3. It’s amazing how a good writer with writer’s block starts off penning, “Writing doesn’t come easily right now…” and then he writes a post that knocks your socks off!
    Wonderful post.

    I just prayed for you and yours, brother.
    It is extremely tough to react to a given situation when we know that our reaction also requires a response or decision that will not only affect us, but others that we dearly love.

    Gracious Father, God of all, we know from your Word and from our experience that we can come to you asking for your wisdom, and you will give it liberally. You will not chide. You will not upbraid. You grant us your wisdom in our confusion.
    And so I cry out to you for you to fill your friend, your servant, Dan with your wisdom. I ask for a Spirit of peace to fill his soul. I ask for your rest to overwhelm his chaos. I ask for you to whisper love songs into his heart.
    We need you. We need you. We need you.
    In the all-powerful, life-changing name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask these things.
    Amen and amen.

  4. Hello…I came across your blog a few days back and have enjoyed reading through all the wonderful articles AND comments.

    I’m in agreement with a previous poster, if this article is a result of writers-block..WOW! Perhaps the results of this post is the result of needing to be emptied to be ‘filled’..

    It ministered to me. Thank you.

    Reading through your bio, I see you live in Eastern Cincinnati. I grew up in that area but now live in Northern Kentucky.

    Bless you for such a heart felt post…

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