This was the title of my devotional today. Bad news. Not exactly inviting. Negativity, too. And considering it seems a lot of this has flown my way lately (well, not a lot - I over-exaggerate and have a little pity party), I was not thrilled to read it. But then again, I was hopeful it would help me understand the obstacles, or what I view as obstacles, God places in my life.
The daily devotional concept is new for me. I just started it, literally, Monday. I've been attending a Discipleship 101 class on Sunday nights and I've found it interesting. A lot of the concepts I already know, have known since I was a child; but viewing them with adult eyes changes the perspective of information. This past Sunday, my teacher spoke about being more in God's word. We make time for television, Facebook, friends, family, etc...we can make time to read our bible, if only a verse at a time. So, I've commenced to reading a verse each day. I've added a daily devotional website to my RSS feed on my homepage for Google and before I do anything else in the morning: read email, check Facebook, peruse the news, the weather, or the writing tip for the day, I read my devotional scripture. This is my said goal. But I digress...
Back to bad news and negativity. It's everywhere, isn't it? On the news, in the paper, on the CNN feed that scrolls the bottom of your screen. People's words, comments, attitudes, reactions. We take in so much negativity on a daily basis, bad news and negative behavior has become something we expect to hear. I think of Ellen Degeneres's stand-up routine where she is talking about the news and how we not only have the regular news cast, but we have multiple reports throughout the day and there is literally not a time where you can't get the latest news, that the scroll around the bottom should just say, "Things are getting worse..." There are times it feels this way.
My verse that went with what often feels like a diatribe focusing on the damnation of a person was Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things." (NIV).
WHAT?? I was totally perplexed upon reading this verse. I thought I was going to read some revelation of how to handle bad news, not to only focus on the good. Oh, wait - focus on the good.
The point of the message, of the verse, IS to focus on the good. The devil wants us to feed on bad news. It enters our hearts and seeps black poison into the most depraved parts of our brain. Places we hope no one ever knows about and are embarrassed that God can see in his ominous wisdom. Bad news and negativity water these notions and give them life tangling them like weeds into our thoughts, our words, even our deeds until the christian person you were becomes unrecognizable. How do I know this? I've sucked the marrow of negativity until I've been starving. And I've done it more than once.
It never goes well and luckily, God is forgiving, willing to allow us a tabula rasa when we repent of our sins. The things I've done, the comments I've made, the hate I've harbored in my heart when bad news and negativity became the controlling factor in my life fills me with shame. Shame, shame, shame.
Yet, here I sit, reveling in what I can now see as praiseworthy - I am healthy, I am loved, I have a wonderful family, I have a good job (even on days when it's bad). These things are always present in my life so why do I allow the bad "stuff" to affect me? God wants us to focus on the good. Bad news promotes fear, good news promotes faith. We make a choice everyday as to what will control our mood, our thoughts, and our actions. Information is well and good, but what will you invest your time in? Let it not be bad news.