Lenten Devotional: Saturday, Feb. 17

by Allison Floyd

Isaiah 52:7: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

“Y’all should put some good news in the paper.”

While working for a daily newspaper for 15 years, I heard some version of this complaint every day. “The news is all crime and scandal. You’d sell more papers if you’d focus on happy stories.”

Every. Single. Day.

The only way to accept this exhausting complaint is to see it for what it really is: A lament that we all focus on the bad news of the world and blame one another for how broken we are. We think it’s gotten worse with time, but really we’ve only gotten more tools to fixate on bad news and blame each other.

(You see the direction this discussion could go. Insert obligatory repentance for throwing Molotov cocktails on social media.)

Over the years, scads of people have tried to give us a bit of happy news to combat the drumbeat of negativity.

One of my favorites is a group in Nashville, Tenn., who raised $55,836 on Kickstarter last year – almost $30,000 more than their goal – to start a print publication called “Goodnewspaper.” The quarterly newspaper launched in May with the motto “Fighting against a world full of hate by celebrating the people, ideas & movements changing the world.”

Even the cover makes me feel a little better.

With all the depressing news of late, I started to think about the Good News. The term “gospel” appears nearly 100 times in the Bible; the Good News is referred to in the Old Testament, the New Testament, Jesus’ words, Paul’s letters … even in Revelation.

I’m imagining hearing that news first-hand … standing in a bustling crowd and hearing the good news of salvation. What would I have thought of John the Baptist’s foretelling of a coming savior? Would I have understood the news of salvation from sin and seen that as THE good news?

Safe to say, no.  No, I would not have understood.

Because, I have a hard time understanding it today. In my daily life, I see two types of news. Bad news is devastating hurricanes or government corruption or heart-breaking violence, while happy news involves heroic firefighters or inspiring school kids or endearing pets. (Ask me about #DogRates sometime.)

I spend my attention vacillating from the bad news to the happy news and back again without realizing that I’ve placed the Good News on a shelf. The most important news in my life should be the gospel, knowing that all other news is temporary.

That’s not to say we ought to be complacent and say, “God’s got this and nothing on this earth matters, anyway.”

But this world is broken. It’s going to stay broken, literally, until Kingdom comes. Our news will be happy or sad or frustrating. But the Good News doesn’t change, and it doesn’t come from us. It comes from Jesus.

What Good News do I need to hear from Jesus?

Prayer: God, during this Lenten season, I am trying to listen. I want to hear your Good News for the world. Strengthen me to endure the hurt that we inflict on each other and to alleviate pain where I can. But, especially in this time, may I hear your Good News over the news of this world. AMEN.