During the 2016 elections, my husband asked our church’s Sunday school attendees to give their gut reactions to the news headlines placed before them on the tables. Avoiding any political discussions or expected church-type responses, he encouraged us to share emotions from the heart when we think through local, national, or world news.
One by one, we started to share: discouraged, disillusioned, heartbroken, hopeless, frustrated, angry, numb, hypocritical, sorrowful, lack of critical thinking skills, hopeful for the second coming, out of control, and the responses continued.
What could have been a potentially explosive discussion became a time of pointing our feelings toward this truth: God’s unchanging, infallible Word is the only plumbline that can help make sense of these days.
Regardless of where we stand politically or on issues of global importance, this year is another election year — a time when many of us have deep-seated feelings about things that are out of our ability to control or change what is happening. It only takes a few minutes on Facebook to find people spewing venom and reactions based on emotion, often without first taking time to check facts or sources. I can’t help but imagine that Satan celebrates each time believers act out, especially against each other.
In John 1:14, we are told that the Word became flesh and “was full of grace and truth.” Often, we forget that grace and truth must go hand in hand. I’ve felt a profound sense of conviction at how often I vent my frustrations and cynicisms before I first ask the Holy Spirit to equip me in my response and pray accordingly. We need to have grace toward one another and to hold onto the promises that stay true no matter what season we’re in.
Here’s what I’ve been reminding myself and maybe you need to hear this too: He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Nothing takes Him by surprise, so we can trust that He cares deeply for every decision. He is able to accomplish good, and His heart’s desire is that we seek and ask Him. That doesn’t mean that the headlines will change, but we know that He can use them for His glory.
I’m profoundly grateful that Jesus didn’t up and leave when the going got tough. He stood firm to the end and encouraged His disciples to do likewise. This is our opportunity to live faithfully in the midst of difficult times, to weep with those who weep, and to intercede on behalf of others.
Instead of reacting on emotion, join me in grabbing a Bible as we read the news for today. Let’s open God’s Word and use His truth as a plumbline to consider how we ought to engage with the world at large:
How do we fight against the principalities of this world? (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
How do we show the world who Jesus is? (see Matthew 5:14-16)
What role does slander play in the news? What is tempting about slander? (Especially difficult when it’s presented as news, so pray for discernment.) What does Paul say to do? (see Ephesians 4:31-32)
For whom should we pray? Why? (see Matthew 5:44-45; 1 Timothy 2:1-4)
How can we know what to pray? (see Romans 8:26-27)
What does our heart attitude need to be for effective prayer? (see Isaiah 66:2b)
Also, consider the following as you pray through the headlines:
1. Pray the truth about God. He is sovereign and loving and able to answer our prayers about this topic. Speak that truth out loud in prayer. God already knows, but it helps us to declare that truth. Who does He say He is?
2. Do a heart check and ask yourself, “What attitude do I have about this topic?” Do I have anger or pride or some other response about this topic that will get in the way of my prayer? Do I have self-righteous or condemning thoughts? Ask God to forgive that attitude and help you overcome it.
3. Thank the Holy Spirit for leading us as we pray. Listen for Him to lead us now. (It’s okay to wait a bit as you listen for the Spirit to prompt you. Rest in the silence.)
4. Pray specifically for the people and the situations we read and see in the news. Pray for any change that might be needed — for salvation, for healing, for provision, for wisdom, for peace.
Now when my gut reacts in frustration and hopelessness, I open His Word. I commit to prayer and not just another “share.” I commit to bringing these news topics before the Lord, knowing that in the end He is the ultimate authority.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
When I read the news headlines, now more than ever, I’m drawn to putting my hope solely in God. We are tempted to place our confidence in ourselves, in a particular political figure, in everyone but the One in whom we need to trust. Reading through the Bible, I am reminded that God used both good and bad kings for His purpose and to fulfill Hie sovereign will. Nothing is beyond His power and strength. Also, when I read the news, I am made soberly aware of the need for a faith revival in our country and in our world. Fewer and fewer people are believing that the Bible is the irrefutable Word of God. The news headlines beckon me to share the hope that is in me with a world that needs to know the Good News. Believers, we were made for such a time as this. Let’s not blow our opportunities. Time stands still for no one. Very thought provoking post!
You’ve hit my same sentiment – soberly aware of the need for faith revival in our country and world. Yes and Amen!!!
This is so relevant for so many, especially me. Not long ago I was still getting lost in the news, losing hope, knowing it was negatively effecting me. I finally had enough and shut it all down. I remind myself all the time, do not engage in the arguments that ultimately have no end when they are built on opinions or even sometimes lies. Thank you for writing this so thoroughly and honestly, with actions we can take proactively during an incredibly challenging time. Praying this blog finds it way to those needing to hear your words.
Bonnie – you are so welcome. Those proactive actions are ones I need to remind myself and thus I wrote about them for me as well. 🙂
Christa W says
I am overwhelmed, in the best possible way, by what you have shared! Rather than feeling the dark cloud of all that is constantly surrounding us, I am both buoyed and fortified by the truths, that our never-changing God, has promised. You have truly provided a way, through God’s Word, to navigate the storm and to rely on Him as our all in all!
Christa – I am so grateful this helped give some guidance as we navigate these storms together.
Have a wonderful Wednesday. xoxox
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Jennifer we have to listen to the news to know what is going on in our world today that God made. It is good in one-way for us to listen to the news to know what happening in the world today. But as followers especially if we hear bad things happening in our world that God made. Not let them get to us. Scare us especially at this time we are in with this Covid 19. As then we are not really as Followers of God really trusting God son Jesus to take care of us. We are only letting the Old Devil Satan win and fill our minds with fear panic and worry. Especially if a Parent or if Married or not Married. If a Parent and got kids just back a school with all the changes at school they had to. You hear so much on the news. To with schools the way they have to put this and this in place to keep kids safe. You could get into your head am I wise as Parent sending my kids back to school. Will they be safe in school. Like Married with no kids or not Married with Covid 19. you do need to hear on the news but not let it get you into a panic. Say or think things like will I still have my Job for much longer the way things are going. Will my boss still be able to pay me. Or will I soon be paid of work. Who is it putting these doughts in your head. Making you panic and worry. Yes no one else especially if a follower of Jesus. That is right The Old Devil. That is were he wants you be. Worrying and Panicking when you listen to the news. But I say yes listen to news but Don’t let the Old Devil have the last laugh You Panicking over things like this when you hear the news. Go into Prayer for these things. Say We have a big big mighty God who will look after us all especially if followers of his. Pray for Yourself and all People and there Jobs that they will have enough money to pay their bill to stay safe. Parents not to worry about their Kids in school especially to with all the changes to do with Covid 19 that have been made in Schools. To keep them safe. Plus anything else you hear on the news. That God will keep you free from all Panicking and Worry. You will also stand on the Promises in his word the Bible as well as Prayer and not let the Old Devil fill your mind. But you will Trust God. Plus People will see to turn to God in Prayer in theses Days and trust God for everything. If not Saved see they need God come to know him for themselves. Thank you Jennifer for what you wrote. It is excellent. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Wise words, Jen! I will take them to heart. May you and your loved ones be richly blessed during these troubled times.
Irene – thank you so much. May your loved ones be blessed as well and feel His peace in new and enduring ways.
Ada Orie says
As a Christian Nigerian-American woman, my heart has been shattered in ways that I cannot fully articulate. I am thankful to love a God who loves me and doesn’t discount my value because of my race, gender or family of orgin. This year has been heartbreaking and painful for everyone for different reasons such as Covid-19 and its effects such as illness, social distancing, death, job loss and a new reality that is difficult to navigate at times. A divided nation, a polarizing election cycle and more have impacted us in ways that hurt. Yes, we are blessed beyond measure as Christians but we can be authentic and honest before God who created us and our emotions. The body of Christ should the most united group but at the moment there is division, pride and a lack of mercy making its way around the world.
I will continue to stand on God and his undisputed word. I cannot put any person, place or thing above God and his word.
I liked this devotional for many reasons. It kept the focus on God who should always be our number one priority. It reminded us to stay in his word. The bible is not only our blueprint for our lives but also how we equip ourselves. I also like how you called us to pray and not take a passive role I today’s current events. The devil was defeated by Jesus at Calvary and is a sore loser. So he will use devices to try to fool us. We as the body of Christ must make a decision to keep our eyes on our heavenly father no matter what. I Thank God for courageous and authentic women of God like you. Your devotional blessed me. May God give you even bigger stages to equip and encourage the body of Christ. God bless you!
Ada – Your first sentence stopped me in my tracks. To know your heart has been shattered and as I read the heartbreaking details you list, these are the times more than I ever I wish I could jump right across the screen and be a new friend in real life. I’d give you a big hug (although I guess I’d need to find out if you’re a hugger during this season ;)) and to not only agree with you on your vast value, but to thank you for continuing to stand on His Word .
Thank you for your encouraging words and know that we are so grateful you are a part of this encourage community today.
Nancy Ruegg says
First, what a wise way your husband chose for handling the hot-button issue of current events! He is so right: the only place we can take all those hurtful emotions for true release and healing is to our sovereign God. Second, even if I might not spew verbal venom out loud or through my keyboard, I will often vent my frustrations and cynicisms to my husband, other family members, or even to myself. And that’s a sign of pride. My responses need to come from a place of humility and a contrite spirit (Isaiah 66:2b), and my first reaction needs to be prayer. Thank you for all these helpful scriptures, Jennifer!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Just a note to let you know that you’re not alone and yes, it is pride, even when we’re muttering under our breath. Oh that we might develop a humble and contrite heart!
Nancy Ruegg says
Amen, dear friend, AMEN!
Beth Williams says
This post is post on for today’s world. Thank you for writing this & reminding us to turn back to God. The news & the reports get to me so much that I basically quit watching. I am fed up with everyone in congress no matter their party. This country now more than ever needs a revival. We as Christians are the ones to bring it about. We can start by praying for everyone from President Trump-& his family to all government leaders. They need Godly wisdom to help make wise choices for the people. Also as Christians we need to show this sin darkened world more of God’s love. Shine His light more brightly. People are hurting now & need us to show them the way in this crazy world. Let’s get on the bandwagon & do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can,
To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”