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Bad News

Bad news can come in so many ways. Today I've had quite a bit. A dear friend's divorce will be final tomorrow. Another friend's daughter died after a prolonged illness. And the last phone call of the evening brought more bad news; the doctors can't do any more for my brother-in-law, so hospice has been called in.

It's true: bad news can come in many ways. But there is another corollary that is equally as true: you can choose your attitude. For this reminder I am indebted to James MacDonald, Chicago pastor and radio Bible teacher. I've been reading his book Lord, Change My Attitude and have found I've been choosing some bad attitudes lately. Teenagers often hear parents chide them to "check their attitudes at the door," but no one gets quite that punchy with their adult friends. Yet God does.

Consider the children of Israel as they stood outside the Promised Land before their 40-year trek through the sand. According to Numbers 11--14 these folks were gold medal bad attitude winners. Complaining and criticizing, doubting and rebelling came easily to this bunch, especially when 10 of 12 spies said the land God had promised to give them was ungettable. And God wasn't pleased. The Bible says the anger of the Lord burned against the people and many of them were killed--right there on the spot.

With their example in clear focus I looked at my bad news and wondered, was I any different than those folks? God has promised us joy unspeakable and full of glory. God has promised His presence no matter what. God has promised to love us with an everlasting love, to keep our tears in a bottle, to hear our sighs and to heal our sorrows. But by my choosing to criticize God's way of bringing about His plan in another's life, to fuss at God for allowing a parent to be left behind, to question God's healing of a loved one by bringing them through death's door, well, by my bad attitudes I was telling God that His promises for MY bad news were just not gettable.

Yet the Bible assures us that none of God's good promises has ever failed. The only failure in the midst of all my bad news was me and my way of looking at things. I failed to choose an attitude of faith, of submission to God's will, of thankfulness for His direction in the past and His assurance of His presence in the future. When today's bad news came faster than I could mentally process it, I forgot the very thing I've encouraged you to do: Keep trusting God for the ride.

So learn from my mistake today, okay? When bad news comes (and it will!), choose a godly attitude instead of a bad one. Choose to have faith; choose to be thankful; choose to remember how God has cared for you in the past. But most of all choose to keep trusting Him through the bad news, for the Bible says, He who promised is faithful.

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