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Words of Life

When Bad News Comes

By Angela Thomas August 17, 2014 Words of Life

Everyone eventually wakes up to a day when bad news comes. A diagnosis. A call in the night. A notice posted at work. A police officer at your door. In what feels like a very short life, I’ve already had several times like that. I bet you have too. 

Just two months ago, bad news came about my mom. It was 8:30 Friday morning. I was in the Philadelphia airport, walking to board a flight to Maryland. Daddy called me from the hospital and said, “Mama’s doctor wants to talk to you.” 

The night before, I left my parents’ at the hospital around 10:00. Daddy and I were both grateful because, though very sick with ovarian cancer, Mama seemed better that Thursday. The three of us sat together in her room until bedtime, talking and laughing. Before I left, Mama told me where to find a recipe for a really good jambalaya. I told her I’d come straight to her from the airport on Sunday, and we’d get ready for a Thanksgiving feast. 

As I drove home from the hospital that night, I was struck by Mama’s connectedness in our conversation. She just kept looking at me like she loved me soooo much. She was completely interested in everything I had to say. Today as I’m remembering that precious night, one hand is trying to type while the other hand uses the corner of the bed sheet to wipe my tears. I am undone thinking about the sweetness in her blue eyes. 

The next morning found me leaning against an airport wall, attempting to hear a doctor say, “Angela, God is calling your mom home. She has hours or days left here.” 

Even though Mama was sick, we were all shocked. No one had ever told us the end was so close. On Saturday, Mama waited for all of her family to get to the hospital. Then she waited a few more hours until her 51st wedding anniversary on Sunday. Then her work was done. Her family was with her when she went to heaven. 

I cannot say which day was the worst: the day I heard mama had ovarian cancer, the day my sister drowned, the day my aunt was killed in an airplane crash, or the day Mama went to heaven. And until I am with the Lord, there will be more bad news. Jesus says it this way: 

            I have said these things to you, that in me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.

            John 16:33 

Notice Jesus says, “you will have,” not “if you have” or “maybe you’ll have.” Tribulation is defined as trouble, suffering, or distress. And Jesus says experiencing tribulation in this world is unavoidable. But just as trouble as promised, so is another assurance to believersBut take heart: 

            I have overcome the world.

            John 16:33 

Do you need to reach out your hand and take hold of this promise today? The certain troubles of this world will not overcome believers. Those who trust Jesus to overcome this world can live through tribulation in His peace. 

The truth of this passage holds no matter when you come to understand its strength. But how I long for you to possess this truth before bad news comes. The sadness of tribulation is tough all by itself. But to encounter tribulation without the hope of Christ — I can only imagine the depths of that despair. 

Jesus originally spoke these words in Greek, using the imperative mood, which signifies a command. My children know the intent of my instruction based on my tone. Jesus’ tone in this case was a command. He wants us to know what is possible for those who obey His command. 

I have no idea how someone can face this world with its bad news and horrible evil without the hope of Jesus Christ. The Bible says it this way: 

            Who was it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God?

            1 John 5:5 

When you become a follower of Christ, Colossians promises that 

            Your life is hidden with Christ in God…you have been filled in him.

            Colossians 3:3; 2:10 

From the moment we believe in Christ as Savior, we are hidden in Hin and filled by Him. I want you to know the strength to face the bad news is provided in Christ. What we need — spiritually, emotionally, and even physically — was bought for us on the cross. 

And it gets better! Not only are we hidden in Christ and filled by Christ, 

            Christ in you the hope and glory.

            Colossians 1:27 

Right here is where we must pitch our tent and camp our souls. Christ in me is my hope. 

When headlines promise doom and destruction,

       Christ in me is my hope.

When the doctor calls with a desperate diagnosis,

       Christ in me is my hope.

When a good child chooses his way,

       Christ in me is my hope.

When death comes too soon,

       Christ in me is my hope.

When I am abandoned, without one close friend, left all alone,

      Christ in me is my hope.

When the people who should have loved did not,

      Christ in me is my hope. 


Watch Angela Thomas this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Adapted from Stronger by Angela Thomas. Copyright ©2013 by Angela Thomas. Published by LifeWay Press. Used by permission.

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