Bad News, But…

February 25, 2012
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind"1 (Lyrics)

If you were to find the photographs of kids and grandkids in my purse, you would also turn up an old postcard. Originally, it came inviting me to attend the ordination service of a student minister friend.

The picture side of the postcard shows a multitude of lighted candles arranged across a church altar. Printed in the upper right hand corner on the scene is this Scripture verse:

Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV)

After thinking about the words for months, I set out to learn what the verse meant literally for its original audience. Also, I puzzled about what it could mean to me, a follower of Christ in the twenty-first century.

The prophet Zephaniah warned of the coming destruction of Judah at the hands of Babylon around 700 B.C. He portrayed approaching horror and stark ordeal. This verse from Zephaniah states the "bad news, but…" attached to his dire forecast:

  • Jehovah their Creator is present in the midst of His people.

  • He is a powerful warrior and champion.

  • He will save, preserve, and allow them to mature and grow old.

  • He takes whole-hearted delight, exceeding joyfulness, mirth, and pleasure in His people.

  • He will hold His peace and keep them safe with Him because He loves them.

  • He will spin in strong emotion with songs and shouts of triumph.

Judah would not be alone and helpless! Even though life as they knew it would become dramatically different, their Almighty Creator God was with them, keeping them safe, enjoying them, loving them, encouraging them, and cheering for them.

Jesus also gave us a "bad news, but…":

John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (AMP)

We may have peace in the face of trouble. Christ's peace is conditional on how we evaluate distress. We have choice. We may let it go straight to the heart where it pierces and destroys. Alternatively, we can add our faithful "bad news, but…" confidence, and sweeten the bad news with His promise of conquering love and care. With trust in God's Word, distressing change becomes adventure. We feel safe, able to move on to do our part while we wait and see.

Perhaps what I have shared here will act for our readers as the postcard did for me. The words of the verse in Zephaniah could spur us on to living undaunted, with more trust in our doting, present, powerful God.

Prayer: Father in heaven, in the name of Christ Jesus Your Son, we ask that You would teach us to hear You cheering for us. May we demonstrate what it is like to live encouraged by Your present, joyful, secure, whole-hearted, noisy love, as we express Your kind of love to those around us. Amen.

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About the author:

Pat Bell <llebpat@gmail.com>
Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada

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