The good news about bad news

Colleen Elisabeth Chao is an editor and author. She enjoys dark-dark chocolate, side-splitting laughter, and half-read books piled bedside. She makes her home near Boise, Idaho, with her husband Eddie, their son Jeremy, and Willow the dog. 




The good news about bad news

The good news about bad news

The good news about bad news

In the past decade, going to the doctor has felt a bit like guzzling apple cider vinegar while walking barefoot on hot coals. Not exactly my idea of fun.

Thursday’s appointment was no exception—bad news again. Not necessarily cancer, but a complicated cocktail of issues my doctor believes first set my cancer into motion. And the complicated solutions are (once again) breathtakingly expensive, time-consuming, and don’t come with any guarantees.

As I began to recover from the firehose of new test results, I sensed God with me in a special way. “I know you’re not surprised by this,” I quietly told him. “I know you have everything I need for this.”

But I’m sure you know as well as I do that trusting God doesn’t mean skirting around the tough emotions that surface on dark days. So even while I was full of faith, I also felt deeply discouraged—sad that I have a broken body, that I can’t seem to string together three weeks of good health. My heart was heavy.

I reached for my Bible, opened to the Psalms, and read two verses (just two)—before it struck me with new force that while my body is a bad news factory, this Book is nothing but good news. The best news. And when I sit in it—when I linger in these precious Pages—my heart is grown strong with hope. In this world, my body might continue to be weak; but in his Word, my spirit is a triathlete.

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

So we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Okay, and get this: God’s good news DOESN’T COST A THING. It’s free, free, free.

Can we just steep in the beauty of this for a moment?

The best of doctors and clinicians and institutions have, in essence, said to me, “We’re not entirely sure what’s going wrong in your body, and we’re even less sure of whether or not we can cure you. But let’s give it our best shot.” This then sets into motion The Medical Bill Marathon, a financial feat so grueling it could send a strong man into the fetal position in two seconds flat.

But in striking contrast, God himself perfectly diagnosed our (infinitely bigger) problem, then offered us a 100%-guaranteed cure that cost him everything and us nothing. The Perfect Physician was also the Cure, and the Cure was also the Generous Bill-payer.

This is the best news in the history of the world. Every time I open my Bible, every time I recall a promise from these Pages, good news wins. So let the bad news come—it will soon be buried with my bones anyway (whether in one year or fifty). But good news gains momentum. Like the beautiful picture painted in Ezekiel 47, God’s goodness starts as a gentle trickle in our life, but it won’t stop till it’s a rushing river that flows deep and wide, bringing life to everything it touches.

Dear one, when we make a habit of looking for that goodness—which requires us to lift our eyes from our singleness, sickness, infertility, divorce, empty bank account, lost loved one, wounded relationship—we begin to understand that bad news on this side of eternity is sort of like stubbing your toe on the way to collect your billion-dollar inheritance.

Okay, so I stubbed my toe again this past week. But I’m sitting here wealthy beyond compare, spoiled by a Rich and Wonderful Daddy, who loves me beyond anything I will ever deserve. He’s taking my unwanted test results and physical limitations and deep disappointments and working so much good in my life, I don’t know what to do with it all. Seriously. It’s crazy.

Susan Huntington once wrote,

“Afflictions are sent for our profit, and if we do not profit by them, the fault is entirely our own.”

I’ve missed out on some amazing blessings along the way because I was so eager to avoid suffering. But whenever I’ve wrapped my arms around the hardships, when I’ve viewed them as a means of experiencing more of Christ—the blessings flow like a rushing river.

What bad news have you heard recently, dear one? What feels like an insurmountable discouragement to you today? That is exactly where God wants to bring you so much good, it will take your breath away.