When Bad News is Good News

August 29, 2007

The Book of Acts, up through the seventh chapter is teaming with Good News. The Holy Spirit comes. Good news. Many new believers join the church. Good News. Peter and the Apostles are arrested, and miraculously released from jail. Good News. And then, it seems as if all the Good News runs out.

In chapter seven, Stephen is arrested and brought before the council. After an impassioned speech, Stephen is stoned to death. Bad News. And, in chapter eight, we read this, “A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem and all the believers except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria. Saul was going everywhere to devastate the church… dragging out both men and women and throwing them into jail.” Very Bad News.

Or is it?

I’m writing a Bible Study on the book of Jeremiah. Yesterday, I ended my work with commentary about Jeremiah’s arrest. In Jeremiah you read that Zedekiah threw Jeremiah in jail where he was given a loaf of bread every day “for as long as there was bread left in the city.”

Most of us would call incarceration bad news – especially if we’d done nothing to deserve it. But when I think about it, Jeremiah was living through a siege. Nebuchadnezzar had surrounded the city. They had no food coming in. There was a drought, and water was scarce. We know from Lamentations that women were eating their own children as they fell to starvation. But Jeremiah had bread, as long as there was bread in the city.

So, when is bad news good news? Often bad news is simply Grace in disguise. Jeremiah’s arrest put him in the unique position of being completely cared for by the king of Judah. The persecution of the church forced these believers out into the world. Sure, it was comfortable hanging out with the church. Eating together. Praying together. Sharing all things. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Like having full-time church!

But Grace wanted the believers to share what they had. Grace wanted to send the salt into the earth. To let the light out. To spread itself around so that all the world – you and me, my friend – could come to know the Good News, the VERY BEST NEWS, that has ever been told.

Think about it. Most of the time, we only see bad news as good news when we have the added benefit of hindsight. What about you? Have you seen Grace come disguised as Bad News?

I’m on vacation — sort of. Our boat has had trouble, and we are now living in a boat yard in BC. It wouldn’t be my plan for vacation. But I wonder. Is this Grace Disguised?


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