How to Get Glad When the News is Bad

by Andy Wood on April 10, 2015

in Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Abundance, Protecting Your Investment

Sadness and happiness

Hop on the Hypothetical Bus with me for just a minute.  Let’s take a ride.

Let’s assume that as far as you know you’ve been doing everything you know to do correctly.

  • You brush and floss 2-3 times a day.
  • You have your daily devotions.
  • You exercise devotedly.
  • You give your money regularly to your church and other places.
  • You do a really good job at whatever you call work.
  • You only eat organic Cheetos.
  • You get your milk from a Christian cow.

Yet despite all the good things you’re doing and the faith and expectations you’ve been exercising, you just checked the scoreboard and,

Uh oh…

Your life is something like that mean football cheer:

Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind!
Look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind…
You!

What do you do when the news should be good, but it’s discouraging instead?

  • The dentist says you need a root canal.
  • The lab says your cholesterol is still too high.
  • Your car and refrigerator both just blew up.
  • Your boss just chewed you out for what you thought was pretty good stuff.
  • Your Christian cow got anthrax and contaminated the organic Cheetos you just finished off.

You just gonna quit?  Fire up the whine machine?  Howl at the moon or throw a pity party?

That’s an option.

Yep, you read it right here.  I have a graduate degree in Discouragement Science, and have the authority to tell you that if you meet the qualifications, you have every liberty to hang it up.  Why sweat it?  It’ll never work anyway.  It’s all a cosmic joke and you’re the punch line.  So just forget it.

What?

Oh, yeah, sorry.  The qualifications. I got lost there for a minute. As long as all of these things are true, then feel free to quit.

  • You don’t have anyone, anywhere, who’s influenced by your behavior and attitudes.
  • You don’t have any children, at home or otherwise, who look to you for guidance.
  • You don’t have a spouse who’s depending on you.
  • You’re independently wealthy and don’t need any source of income whatsoever.
  • You’re a follower of Christ, but nobody on the planet knows about it.

What? You’re still here? That means you need a different strategy.  So how does somebody take courage despite discouraging news?

What NOT to Do

Okay so you don’t have the luxury of quitting.  Let me caution you about that other temptation you may be facing.  Why don’t we decide now that you’re going to leave those frenzy skates in the closet, all right?

I know, bad news creates a sense of urgency, and that’s OK.  It can even be useful.  Use a little urgency to leverage action – it’s a good jump-starter.  Urgency is like salt – a good flavor producer or preservative.  But you don’t want to live by that all the time or it’ll backfire.

When urgency gives way to frenzy, people set themselves up to do really dumb things.  They take comfort in being really busy or making emergency-type decisions. That’s great if the house is really on fire.  But the choices people make when they thought the building was burning down can be grim when they discover that it was just a blown fuse.

Save those frenzy skates for the true panic situations.  Until then, let’s find a better way.

Let’s Trace a Theme

One of the most disturbing scenes in the Bible took place when David and his 600 men returned to their home-away-from-home and found that their place had been attacked and pillaged, and their wives and children had been taken captive.  Talk about bad news! They cried until there was no more strength to cry.  Then this:

Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6).

The word literally means, David “found his strength in the Lord His God.”  And what was his strategy for doing so?  He called for the ephod and inquired of the Lord.  “What do I do about this?  Do I go up against them?”  He sought the Lord for both strength and direction.  The order is important.  The strength/encouragement comes first, THEN the direction.  Too often we want to pursue directions before we gas up the car or recharge the battery.

But to find your strength in the Lord?  What does that mean?  Our old buddy Nehemiah said that the “joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).  And David knew that “in your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:9).

So get this.  Back to the wall, heart on the floor, David went to God for strength and direction.  When did he know his strength had returned?  When he could find the joy, even in the midst of the bad news.

Maybe that’s why Paul so urgently reminds us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).  The reason to find our strength in the Lord, to rejoice in the Lord, or to find union with Christ in the wake of bad news is that in Him the news is always good. He never changes. His strength never wanes.  In His presence is fullness of joy!

Rejoice Always?

Yes, always.

Crazy, isn’t it?   God intended this it to be an ongoing experience for believers.  That means no outward changes in circumstances should be able to rob your joyful disposition because your union is not with your circumstances.

This is important enough that Paul repeats himself in this verse, and is repeating what he said in a previous verse.  Repetition indicates importance. Rejoice. Rejoice. Again I say rejoice.  I think Paul meant it.

This is a command laced with a wish.  Rejoicing is definitely a choice – but it’s a choice with a desired happy result.  Paul is saying, “I want you to find the joy and supreme happiness that comes in your union with the Lord, but you are going to have to choose it.”

Obviously our joy is in the Lord, not in the circumstances. But don’t use that as a cop-out.  Yes, David cramped his gut with deep sorrow.  But he returned again to a place of Presence, and so must you and I.  If you’re a follower of Christ, you are already in union with the Lord.  Enjoy it, for crying out loud!

Why do we rejoice in the Lord always?  Because He’s the only one who offers it always.  Lesser sources can offer joy, but only for limited periods; scripture is filled with examples of that, and it is an overstatement to say that joy is only found in the Lord.  He’s the only “always” source, however, and the joy that he gives can’t be taken away – only ignored, rejected or neglected.  Are you prepared to do that?  Are you ready to allow your disappointments to be an excuse to ignore, reject, or neglect your birthright of joy?

Rejoicing is an expression of value.  To rejoice in the Lord means to find your highest value in the Lord, not in lesser sources.  If your greatest joy is in your family, then if you lose family members, you lose your joy.  If it is in your success and you are no longer successful, then you lose your joy.

So yes, always means always.  This requires you and me to have a strategy for finding joy in the Lord on the days when we’re dealing with annoyances, frustrations, rage, or grief.

What’s your strategy for gladdening yourself in the Lord?

Try This

We can’t rejoice in the Lord always if we don’t have a way to go back to our union with the Lord in times of joylessness and draw inner strength and encouragement from Him.  Try this pattern based on 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

  1. Union with a person (in Christ). Find time to intentionally find solitude with the Lord. Lift up your soul to Him, including the raw feelings, honest thoughts, and unfiltered desires.  But also find in Him your rock, your fortress, and your strong tower.
  2. Separation from old patterns (the old has passed away). Honestly take a look at where things may have gone wrong. What could you do differently?  What has to stop?
  3. Application of new principles (the new has come). How can you anchor yourself to timeless truth that is found in Christ and His word? What new distinctions can you make? What new ideas to try? What new examples can you follow?

 

Let’s be honest.  Encouraging yourself when it’s easier to quit – this is work.  Hard work.  But remember what every Philippian believer knew about Paul’s letter to them – he was writing it from a Roman prison.

And I doubt he was feeling all that good.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Martha Orlando April 10, 2015 at 4:24 pm

The joy of the Lord is my strength!
Wonderful post, Andy, as always. Love your inspiration and your humor, my friend!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Perfect Plan

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: