What to Do with Bad News

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In light of current events I put together this handout to give to my church tomorrow. I thought it might be helpful to give you some things to do when you hear or experience bad news. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, but is what is on my heart to share right now.

1. Pray in Concentric Circles

Personal Bad News: Start with yourself work your way outwards (ex. you, spouse, children, close family, extended family, church, neighbourhood, town/city, province, nation, world).

Other’s Bad News: Start with the affected person/people and work your way outwards (victim, culprit, family of victim, family of culprit, local churches, community affected, local officials, government, nation, world)

Talk to God about your concerns, worries, hurts, fears, frustrations and confusion. Ask Him to work miracles by His Spirit, through you, and through His church to bring wisdom, comfort and peace. Thank Him for His never-ending love and His promise to help.

2. Protect your Thought Life

Personal Bad News: A temptation you will face will be to enter a negative-thought-cycle where you continuously dwell on the problem and avoid sharing it with others. Satan wants you to feel alone and forgotten. Remember to include family, friends, and good Christian counsellors when you are working through bad news. They can pray for you, help you, encourage you, and keep you from sinking into a negative-thought-cycle that will lead to depression.

Other’s Bad News: The media uses bad news to gain more viewers and grab your attention – so they can make more money and sell more advertising. They will release half-baked stories and sensationalize trivialities in an attempt to fill their 24 hour news cycle. It’s good to stay informed as you grieve for the victims, but it’s important to remember, especially at the beginning of a crisis, that the truth won’t really be found for a while. It’s also important to remember that it’s not good to spend too much time dwelling on things that create fear, dread and anxiety within you.

3. Watch your Words

Personal Bad News: As you are sharing your bad news with others, be careful not to gossip or slander. Use emotive language (“I feel…, “I felt…”) and share from your own perspective. [If you are the listener, remember that the emotions will be raw and they want your comfort, not random Bible verses, hackneyed advice and trite answers.]

Other’s Bad News: It’s normal to want to talk about bad news, but be careful not to draw conclusions, offer spurious information, or say that you know why it happened. Remember that the situation is far more complex than you understand, there were real people involved so we need to be compassionate, and that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts so our explanations will never be satisfactory.