A Note from Chris Adams: “He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7). Do you believe that verse is possible? I do because I’ve experienced bad news, and I’ve seen His hand lead and bring power and peace. Today, Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA) writes part 1 of 2 parts on this topic. Read and be strengthened as you face times of trouble as you serve the Lord in leadership.
Bad news happens to us all. It hits like a tornado, out of nowhere. Making a huge swath of hurt, questions, and trauma in our lives and the lives of those around us.
As of late, bad news has been flooding the people in my world, including me. Of all the bad news, I have been thankful my bad news was mine. See, God gives us the grace we need to get through our bad news, not the bad news of others. We can survive our bad news; it will become a new normal in time and with prayer.
There are basic facts about bad news:
- Bad news will come to us. It’s the nature of the world we live in. Bad things happen.
- Bad news does not mean God has stopped being there. He still loves us and is still God!
- Bad news is not greater than God’s mercy and grace.
- Bad news is not something we can plan. It comes when it comes and in the way it comes.
- Bad news comes with myths and superstitions. It does not always come in threes, or on Friday the 13ths. It comes as it comes. Sometimes more than three sets of bad news come at a time.
- Bad news is not just drama; it’s trauma. We receive a lot of news, some of it is based on the perception of others, but bad news is deeper. It has more implications and a long-term impact on the lives of others.
In ministry and leadership, bad news is going to be a frequent part of our lives, either personally or in the lives of those we lead. How we react to bad news is based on our past experiences and the severity of the news. When the news is personal, as a leader, it becomes a challenge to take the time to appropriately deal with the news, but we must. Unresolved bad news has a tendency to throw us off kilter, add stress to our lives, and make us all around miserable.
Here’s a healthy way to respond to bad news:
- Get on your face before the Lord. That’s where we need to go when bad news hits us.
- Take some time off. Take time to think and ponder. This helps with accepting the bad news.
- Look at what happened, analyze the bad news, and come to a place of perspective and understanding on what the reality is, what can be done, and what possible responses are available. Then get busy; do something to adjust to the bad news.
As I was sharing my bad news, I realized I was overly concerned with how to help the people in my life. While it seemed like everything in my life was changing, I was more focused on helping the ones around me deal with the bad news than I was with my own processing of the news. I felt like I was wounding them by telling them the news. The result was not good; my own stress level soared. I became irritated, frustrated, and not very pleasant to be around!
Here’s what I had forgotten:
- God is in control, not me.
- Bad things happen, but God uses those bad things to get us to a new place.
- I cannot fix everything, and I cannot fix anyone except maybe myself.
- I may not always see God’s hand in the bad news, but I can trust that He is at work.
When bad news happens, it is like the safety announcement on board flights. Place the mask on yourself before placing it on dependents. We need to take care of ourselves before we attempt to share the news or help others deal with it. This may only take time enough for a prayer for acceptance, wisdom, and peace in the midst of it all.
Next week, bad news continues. We will look at how to share bad news and how to help women who have received bad news.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.