Jan. 28, 2020 Good News in Tough Times
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” - Luke 2:10, NRSV
Nearly six weeks have passed since our Christmas celebrations at Christ Church. Almost thirty days elapsed since we spoke of the good news of the birth of Christ.
So often, good news seems unpredictable, elusive, and short-lived. You never know when or where you’ll hear about or experience good news. Good news is intangible and when it comes around, it seemingly doesn’t last very long; definitely, not as long as we’d like.
Sometimes, in tough times, it's hard to discover any semblance of good news. We live fast-paced lives in a world replete with wars and rumors of war. We experience political agendas, celebrity failures, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, ecological disasters and the list seems endless.
Yes, oftentimes it's hard to find any "good news" in our midst, but the good news is ...there is always some "good news" to discover. Sometimes, like the proverbial "needle in a haystack" – we must seek to find good news - or maybe – we simply become the good news.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to fly out and visit my daughter (Ashley) who was attending college at the University of Colorado. I boarded a United Airlines flight bound for Denver, Colorado. I sat down in my assigned exit row seat (aisle) and as we awaited takeoff - I thought of and reflected on many things:
- The past 4 years of paying my daughter’s college education – and soon she will be on her own;
- My career having served nearly 30 years as an Army/Air Force chaplain;
- The past 50+ years seeking to discover and enjoy life and live it to the fullest.
I glanced out the window and noticed my exit row companion (a woman in her mid-40s) occupying the window seat. She had pressed her face against the windowpane (obviously engrossed in the endless trail of bags being loaded on the plane from a conveyor belt). As she turned toward me, I detected a few tears rolling down her cheek and then landing on her black Nike sweatshirt.
As she glanced in my direction, she couldn’t help but notice that I was dressed in priestly garb and through her tears she struggled to offer greetings: "Good morning, Father! Do you have any good news for a broken spirit?" In the next few moments before takeoff – she relayed that she, too, was headed to Denver to attend the funerals of (3) family members killed in a tragic car accident. She confided and confessed her heartache, her sense of guilt and failure, her estrangement from family, her spiritual void, and her fear that she might never again experience any "good news."
We engaged in conversation a little while longer until the roar of the plane speeding down the runway drowned out our voices. When the plane leveled off - my new friend asked me to offer a prayer for her and her family. I was privileged to do so.
In the midst of this woman's personal struggle and tragedy - she was desperately seeking some logical explanation to help solve her pain. She confessed to feeling as though she was operating in the dark and felt all alone. Certainly, we’ve all been there at some point in life. In her struggles she groaned - desperate for some/any "good news." She longed to experience what the writer of Proverbs described: "Good news ...is like cold water to the thirsty" (Prov. 25:25).
And though I couldn't give her any tangible "good news"; still, I was able to point her to the God who loved her and had promised to walk with her through the dark night of the soul; the God who would bring her out of darkness into the light and Good News of His eternal presence.
And though my prayer wasn't flowery, or amazing, or filled with dynamic language - it did contain the "good news" we all long to hear from God: "I came that you might have life and have life abundantly." (John 10:10).
WORDS TO LIVE BY: I like what Rabbi Hillel Silver says: "Beyond all horizons there is God."
THE GOOD NEWS is simply this: Beyond all horizons there is God and despite our circumstances - God loves us! This same God desires to walk with us until our journey is complete – and that means he will be with us in light or darkness; in trials and tribulations; when life is good and when life throws us a curve; in health and sickness; in joy and sadness; wherever His will takes us - there is God.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord, when all else fails - we've discovered that still - you are God. We have learned that beyond "all horizons" – there is the Lord. May your love for us continue to empower us and enable us to overcome all barriers. Inspire us also to live each day to the fullest and as we journey through life - to inspire this hope in our service to others. Amen.