The Bad Report

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).

As long as we live on this earth there are times we’re just going to receive a bad report. Jesus made it plain to his disciples that no one was immune from trouble. But just as certain as trouble would find the believer, the delivering and overcoming power in Jesus Christ would be made available so that we can have trouble without trouble having us. Regardless of whether it’s a family crisis, challenging problem, life-threatening disease, or a lost job, we can decide how we are going to respond. Ultimately, the goal of the enemy through the bad report is to try to maneuver us from our place of faith. The arrival of trouble should be like a flashing yellow light warning us of the devil’s intentions and motivating us to reflect before we react to the bad report.

The onset of a bad report does not make us the freak or the black sheep of the body of Christ. True, sometimes bad reports come because we are unwise. As Forest Gump always said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Most of the time trouble is just the consequence of simply being alive and totally normal. Trouble is common to everyone and its presence in our lives does not make us terrible people. We should also realize that trouble comes because we threaten the enemy with our lives or because we have made the quality decision to live for God in an increasingly post-Christian culture. Remember the words of Paul to his spiritual son Timothy: “Yea, and all those that will live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

The question is not whether bad reports are going to come – they will. The question is how will we choose to respond to them. You see, if we want to be distressed we should look within. Becoming introspective during a challenging time will produce no lasting results and will only increase our anxiety. I learned in college years ago that if I was feeling down or upset to go out and find someone who needs ministry and bless their life. By taking the focus off of ourselves we often alleviate the distress. If we want to be defeated we should look back. Pining over the past with regrets and “what ifs” will cause our certain defeat in the present. If we want to be distracted we should look around. This world offers a new distraction, it seems, every new day. There’s plenty to distract us already with the trouble. We don’t need to go looking around for more to distract us from the things of God. If we want to be dismayed we should look ahead. While there is certainly a place in our lives for looking forward in vision, we have to make sure we are not so focused on the future that we slip into anxiety or worry about what will or will not happen or become dismayed because the future is sometimes slower to manifest than we would like. Finally, if we want to be delivered – to truly be set free – we should look up. Freedom comes in fixing our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and on His Word. When we spend time in the Word of God we are spending time looking to Jesus.

The story of Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5 gives us a great example of what to do when the bad report comes our way. First, ignore completely the negative report. Jesus arrived on the scene to a negative word and a great commotion of grief, doubt, and unbelief. He was not moved by the report and if we want to see victory in our lives we can’t be moved by the negative reports in life either. Second, arrest the fear trying to rise up in your heart. It’s natural to feel the fear building in us but we have to make a conscious decision to stop the fear and do what Jesus said – just believe. Third, we need to continue to believe in the one who is with us. Yes, there’s bad news but Jesus is still with us reminding us that he never leaves us nor forsakes us. Fourth, separate yourself from all doubt and unbelief. Jesus would not allow the unbelieving crowd and apparently some wavering disciples to enter into where the child was. Jesus, together with Jairus and a few others, separated themselves from that unbelieving atmosphere. Finally, look for the word of the Lord in the situation. In the midst of the fear, grief, despair, and doubt – in the midst of all the commotion it is sometimes hard to listen for the words of life ready to fall from the lips of Jesus. Nevertheless, we must listen beyond the noise for the words of power and dominion that Jesus has for our situation. One word from God can change our lives forever. The word spoken that day raised Jairus’ daughter from death. The word spoken to us today can bring life and encouragement to our hearts as well.