Our family received an unfortunate update this week. Katherine’s stepmom, who just finished radiation treatment for cancer that was removed from her wrist early this year, found a new knot on her arm that turned out to be a tumor. After consulting with her doctor, it’s been decided that she’ll have to undergo another surgery followed by extended immunotherapy treatment. All this while she’s meant to be on the mend from her first surgery and round of radiation. To say that we’re disappointed would be an understatement.
We were hoping and praying that this battle would be over, that we’d all move on from it, and that it would soon become nothing more than memory. But now, we know that the battle rages on, and that’s not an easy thing to accept.
Simply put, it’s bad news. It’s not something any of us wanted to hear. But it’s the reality we have to face, and even though we’re not happy about it, we’re trying to deal with it in a healthy way.
These are a few truths I’m trying to keep in mind in the face of bad news. To be honest, I’m writing this post mainly for my own sake, but I hope that you’ll get something useful out of it, too.
Bad news does not change who God is.
It’s easy when things go wrong to immediately blame God or at least wonder why he would allow something like this to happen. Trying times can test one’s faith, sometimes even bringing it to a breaking point. But I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that even when my circumstances change, God never does.
He’s still who he’s always been, even when it’s hard for me to see.
The same loving, graceful, live-giving God who blessed me with good news all those times before is still with me now. He hasn’t turned his back on me or changed his mind about me. He loves me and wants the best for me, now and always. He’s still the same.
And because he’s still the same, he can still be relied upon. He is faithful. I can trust that he’s never going to abandon me and that no matter what I’m facing, I can always overcome it with him by my side.
I’ve addressed the question before of where God is in the midst of suffering, but it’s worth revisiting now. When we get bad news, often it feels like God has left us, maybe even that he’s acting against us in some way. But the truth is that when we’re suffering, God is right there with us.
He feels our pain. It breaks his heart, too. He takes no joy in the suffering of his beloved children. And when we’re in the midst of suffering from the brokenness of this world, he suffers right along with us. Because he loves us, and his love for us never changes.
Anything can have meaning.
I’ve never bought into the idea that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe that God intends for us to suffer the way we do, and I don’t think he brings it about for some greater purpose. Suffering of this kind is the result of the world’s fallen state and not part of a divine plan. There isn’t some mysterious lesson behind all of the bad things that we go through.
But that doesn’t mean that those things can’t have meaning. I believe that they can. I just think that we have to make the meaning rather than waiting for it to find us.
Bad news is awful, and the suffering that accompanies it is worse. But nothing is beyond redemption, at least not in my book. I’m not saying that it makes things any better. I’m not even necessarily saying that the good will outweigh the bad. But even in the worst of circumstances, we can find a way to make our suffering mean something.
Maybe it helps us be more compassionate towards others in their own suffering. Maybe it brings us closer to those we love. Maybe it enriches our faith through our utter reliance on God. Whatever it is, there can be meaning in the chaos, but only if we create it. So when I find myself facing bad news, I try not to become so blinded by it that I can’t see opportunities for meaning-making in the midst of it.
Your community is your rock.
Sunday morning, our church took time out of the worship service to come together and pray for Katherine’s stepmom. We gathered around her and prayed individually that God would heal her and see her through the difficult road ahead. It was a powerful, emotional moment, and I am so thankful for it.
Everyone there felt the love and support the church was extending to our family. It was touching, it was encouraging, and it was just what we needed. In the midst of hard times, having a support network of people who truly care is such an important thing.
Each and every one of us is loved more deeply and more profoundly than we could ever know by those around us. When hard times come, it’s an opportunity to look around and realize just how many people are invested in us. We can’t lose sight of that, because some days, it may be the thing that gets us through.
Someone out there is rooting for you. You are not alone. People care about what you’re going through. It’s true, even when we don’t feel it, and we don’t have to be afraid to rely on that.
Outlook is everything.
I’ve been consistently impressed by the attitude Katherine’s stepmom has maintained throughout this entire ordeal. She’s stayed positive, pleasant, and hopeful despite everything she’s going through. It’s inspiring to me, and it convicts me to practice the same optimism in my own life.
The right attitude can turn an impossible situation into one that can be managed. It can take the most miserable of days and make it bearable. It can turn defeat into hope and maybe even help that hope one day become victory.
We can’t control the things that life throws at us, but we can control how we react to them. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for anger, for sadness, and for mourning when bad news comes. But ultimately, when life gets hard, we have to face it with a positive attitude, or we risk becoming overwhelmed by the sheer weight of it all.
In psychology, we study a phenomenon known as the self-fulfilling prophecy. Basically, if a person believes that a situation is going to turn out a certain way, they will subconsciously do what it takes to make their prediction a reality. This can be either positive or negative, and it applies in every scenario imaginable.
If you believe that you will fail at something, you probably will. Not because you can’t succeed, but because you’ll sabotage yourself through your own expectations. Alternatively, if you go into a situation—even a hard one—believing that you will overcome it, your chances of actually doing so increase substantially.
The right attitude can mean the difference between getting through a tough time and becoming swallowed up by. I don’t know about you, but I’m choosing to take my chances with positivity.
These are the simple truths I’m trying to remind myself of right now. I’ve found that internalizing them and living them out in my daily life has really helped me get through difficult times in the past, and I trust that they’ll help me get through this phase, too.
I hope that you’ve found them helpful as well! Whether you’re dealing with some bad news now or even if things are going smoothly for you, these are truths that I think we can all benefit from. If any of them stuck out to you or made you think, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach out in the comments, my contact page, or on social media.
One last thing: If you’re the praying type, please say a prayer for Katherine’s stepmom and our family. It’s going to be a long road ahead, but we know that God and our community will see us through. We’re thankful for each and every person who’s reached out, checked in, and offered their support. It means the world.
Thanks for reading, friends! I’ll see you next week.