MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, January 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
We seem to have an endless supply of bad news to report these days. But that’s not all.
Plenty of good stories are out there and they require a little digging.
Janie B. Cheaney is here to remind us about that very thing.
JANIE CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Have you heard any good news lately? In the clamor of furious partisans, furious weather, and furious rhetoric, it doesn’t seem like it.
Random conversations in the checkout line, if they go beyond cute shoes or a good deal on seafood, often end with sighs and head-shaking. Prices going up, kids don’t listen, worried about my health coverage. Wall Street banksters, rotten Republicans, demon Democrats—the world’s a mess.
Sunny forecasters, like anthropologist Steven Pinker, insist things are great and getting better. They trot out charts and stats to show a dramatic global decline in extreme poverty, HIV deaths, infant mortality rates, unsafe drinking water, and child labor. For billions of people around the world, life is getting better.
On the domestic front, Morris Fiorina of the Hoover Institution counsels against alarm. In spite of partisan noise and disturbing threats, most Americans are going about their business with friendly nods. A widely reported study of 8,000 Americans by an organization called More in Common shows that a sizeable majority dislike “political correctness” and wonder why we can’t just get along.
Bad news is wide-screen. It manifests itself in mass shootings, factions, and wars. It wears big clumsy boots that stomp all over reasonable argument and heartfelt protest. The effects of bad news are immediate and punchy, even if we disagree about causes.
Good news is personal, small scale, and easy to overlook. The effects are slow and cumulative. Good news may be lurking under our very noses while the smell of the bad overpowers us. It may take years for the effects of tough love to bear fruit in an out-of-control, screaming teenager. Heavy hearts tread down the first green shoots poking up from a devastated house after a hurricane.
But this is how the Holy Spirit usually works, by quietly stirring individual hearts, one by one. Massive revivals throughout history have brought about changes for the better, but only after years of individual Christians laying the groundwork: teaching, praying, and keeping the faith.
Even in the midst of massive revivals, souls are not awakened en masse but one by one. And after the tide of awakening recedes, as it always does, the beach may look bare and bereft. You have to look close to see the life stirring under the sand: little bubbles, the breath of each tiny clam.
Any good news? Philanthropy isn’t dead. Underneath distressing tales of Islamic terrorism, we hear of unprecedented openness to the gospel throughout the Muslim world.
Alongside more young people identifying themselves as atheist or agnostic is a growing hunger for meaning that only Christ can supply. The church is reforming, the truth is refining, and souls are being saved, one by one.
Christian faith doesn’t deny bad news—it’s built on bad news. But from the wreckage of the world stands an empty tomb, with a shout of triumph: Take heart!
“For I have overcome the world.”
For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.