Ever gotten some terrible, awful news?
We’d lived in our hundred-year-old farmhouse about nine months when we discovered the termite damage. Every single stud on the east side had served as a dining room for what had to have been an infestation.
We were faced with a huge project. The house would have to be jacked up off the foundation, siding removed, studs and sill plates replaced or reinforced, then put back together before the house would be safe again.
All that cost a lot of money. Money we didn’t have.
My man hung his head, looking down at the ground for the longest time. After a while, he clenched his fists and cursed our bad luck.
Then he paused and took a deep breath. “Well, I think I know a way to fix this. It’s a tedious, dangerous job, but it has to be done or the house might have to be condemned.”
When you are faced with terrible, awful news, you have some choices.
The pathway through it for us came down to five things.
1) We needed to give thanks.
We were thankful to find the damage when we did, for some help from family to fix it, and for being able to do most of the work ourselves. We were especially thankful the damage was contained to one side of the house.
As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
2) We took responsibility.
Though the previous owners didn’t reveal it and the inspectors didn’t catch it, we didn’t blame them. Instead, we gave them the benefit of the doubt. We also didn’t say, “Well, it’s been like this for fifty years. It will probably be okay for us too.” We were the current owners and took responsibility for fixing it.
As Ecclesiastes 9:10 reminds us: “Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability, because there is no work, no planning, no learning, and no wisdom in the next world where you’re going” (ISV).
3) We didn’t compare ourselves to others.
We didn’t trash talk the previous owners as if we were better than them. We did not look at the house next door and wish we lived there, comparing our known problems to their unknown issues.
As Galatians 6:4 reminds us, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.”
4) We prayed as though everything depended on it.
Nothing brings levity and peace like prayer. Authentic, heartfelt, yell-at-the-heavens prayer. God is not offended by our cries for help. In fact, it is at the end of ourselves that God reveals his power and glory through deliverance, healing, or simple peace in the midst of a big ugly.
As James 5:16 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
5) We trusted God to make a way out, through, around, or past the big ugly.
It isn’t fun to face down awful, terrible news. But God had been faithful in the past, and we had every confidence he would be faithful in this.
As 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (MSG).
I do not know what terrible, awful news you are facing right now, but I do know that God is completely aware of your situation.
I know it’s tempting to pitch a fit, give up, and quit.
It’s easy to use the terrible, awful news as an excuse to get angry and take it out on everyone around you.
- Find a way to be thankful.
- Do what you can to implement a shift.
- Ask for help, and pray like your life depends on heaven opening and God coming down.
Then watch how God reveals himself, transforming your view of terrible, awful news into peace and trust.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” —Romans 12:12
Oh Father, I hate disruptions, inconveniences, and terrible, awful news. Yet I know that without them, I would lean on my own power and strength instead of trusting you. Be with me in and through all my terrible, awful news and help me to do my part as I trust you to do what only you can do. In Jesus’ name, amen.