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How Should We Respond to Bad Reports

Every day the world news is full of distressing events. If we listen for hours to the reports of tragedies, wars, corruption, and the negative impact on the world economy, we can become quite anxious or even depressed. One thing we could choose to do is to boycott the news. This may keep us in a false sense of security, but it will not enable us to be informed as to how our authorities want us to act or how to pray for the needs of the world.

So what should we do? How should we respond to bad reports? Look at the historical account in Deuteronomy 1:19-46 and Numbers 13-14 of a group of spies who were sent by their leader to check out the enemy territory.

God promised the Israelites that He would give them an abundant land full of milk and honey. They were to go against the enemies and conquer the land. The Lord told them not to be afraid or discouraged for He would be with them and enable them to be victorious. Out of caution, the people wanted to send spies to check out the land first. God agreed and twelve men were appointed. Ten of the spies came back admitting it was an abundant land. However, they followed this with terrifying reports of the power and size of the people, saying some were giants. They spoke of how well the cities were fortified.

“‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread among the Israelites a bad report” (Numbers 13:31-32).

The people became stirred up and fearful. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb silenced the crowd and encouraged them that they would be able to take possession of the land.

“If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us . . . the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:8-9).

But the negative reports continued, and the people grumbled. They lost faith and hope. They became angry at God and accused Him of hating them (See Deuteronomy 1:26). They doubted God’s intentions and goodness. Where did all this doubt come from? “Our brothers have made us lose heart” through their bad reports (Deuteronomy 1:28).

Do you see the power of discouraging words? Hopelessness and anxiety come when we look at our circumstances without seeking the Lord in prayer. As we pray to Him, rather than just reiterating the bad news to God, it is important to first take time to worship Him for His awesome character. Proclaim what the Word says about Him, then seek Him for understanding and peace. It was not wrong for the Israelites to take some time to check out the enemy they were up against. But in the face of fear, they needed to claim who God is and the promises He had given them. He promised them victory. As we look first at the character of God and all the many truths about adversity, we will have hope that comes from knowing that God is in control. He is greater than our enemy (even our silent enemy). He desires us to be engaged in the battle through prayer. Take up your shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit and the Word, and pray.

Today’s Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 1:19-46 and Numbers 13-14

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