A Godly Response to Bad News

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Picture depicting bad news as a newspaper burns.

Today’s Bible reading* models for us a godly response to bad news.

King Sennacherib’s spokesman delivers bad news to King Hezekiah, warning him that God cannot defend against Assyria any more than any other god could protect the people who worshiped it. And he tells God’s people to reject King Hezekiah’s leadership. But you may remember that a few days ago, I said that Hezekiah was a good king who followed in the ways of King David.

So what did Hezekiah do when he heard the bad news? Did he quickly surrender to Sennacherib and offer tributes to appease him, hoping that he wouldn’t kill him? No.

King Hezekiah’s godly response to bad news:
He grieved.

When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth,
and went to the Lord’s temple.

(Isaiah 37:1; 2 Kings 19:1)

Don’t miss the fact that King Hezekiah “tore his clothes”. In that culture, tearing one’s clothes was an outward expression of inward desperation. He was very upset about the news. “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘Today is a day of distress, rebuke, and disgrace. It is as if children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them.’ ” Isaiah 37:3 (CSB)

King Hezekiah’s godly response to bad news:
He took it to God … and then he listened.

Next, he sent word to Isaiah the prophet, alerting him to the bad news. Isaiah sends word back to the king. Again, King Hezekiah has a godly response to the news.

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers’ hands, read it, then went up to the LORD’s temple and spread it out before the LORD. Then Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: LORD of Armies, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you are God—you alone—of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. Listen closely, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see. Hear all the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God. LORD, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but made from wood and stone by human hands. So they have destroyed them. Now, LORD our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, LORD, are God—you alone.
Isaiah 37:14–20 (CSB)

When faced with threats from his enemy, King Hezekiah grieved over the news. He went to meet with God. He listened to what God said about the situation (from Isaiah) and then he prayed.


What we’re reading today happened around 700 BC. That’s 2700 years ago. And it’s still so very practical for God’s people!

I will not paint a rosy picture of life with Jesus. Bad news will come! Yes, even for God’s people! It’s just a matter of when it will come. It may be bad financial news. It may be bad health news. It may be bad relationship news. Bad news will come. Whenever bad news comes, acknowledge it for what it is: bad news! Get mad! Express your frustration. Your anger. Your sorrow. You can do this and still have a godly response to bad news.

But don’t leave it there! Like King Hezekiah, take the bad news to God. Take those emotions to God. And then, like Hezekiah, listen to what He says.

If you don’t know where to look in God’s Word, talk with someone who’s farther down the road in their walk with God than you are. Not necessarily older or been a Christian longer, but farther down the road. Spend some time now learning how to listen to God’s voice so you’ll recognize it for yourself and so you can help other people who aren’t as far down the road as you are. Maybe you can help them to have a godly response to bad news.

God may not work things out the way you think He should. He may not heal you the way you think He should. Or when you think He should.

But know this: God is good. And God is sufficient!

He’s sufficient regardless of your situation. He’s sufficient regardless of your need. He’s sufficient regardless of your pain. Let Him be God. Let Him work things out His way. Let Him work things out in His timing. Let Him be God!

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
Isaiah 36
Isaiah 37
2 Kings 18:9-37
2 Kings 19
2 Chronicles 32:1-23
Psalms 76

This devotional was originally published on July 21, 2021.

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