I have been surprised today by the power of good news. I suppose I really shouldn’t be, but sometimes when you’re close to a situation, you take it for granted and fail to appreciate the joy that good news can bring to other people.
My son’s wedding was six weeks ago and I have just received the photo album I lovingly (and painstakingly, given the irregularity of our Internet connection, a long-running saga that is not yet fully resolved, alas…) assembled online. It’s one thing to look at all the pictures on the computer, but quite another to hold a book with them in your hands and inevitably other people want to see the photos. A wedding, it seems, is universally seen as ‘good news’, and people enjoy sharing in the joy of others.
Today, I showed the album to a lady in a care home who has known my son all his life but who rarely sees him these days. Not only was she delighted to see the photos, but two of the assistants working in the home asked to see the album as well because they remembered my son from eighteen years ago when he used to visit his grandmother in the same home. I had no memory of these assistants who work tirelessly with the elderly and infirm, but they remembered him as a young child, full of curiosity and enthusiasm, who had brightened their days many years ago and wanted to share in the joy of his marriage.
Then I saw another lady who used to work in a shop near where we live and who attended the same church as us, a lady whose calm common sense helped me enormously when my son was a screaming baby who never seemed content, no matter what I did! ‘Look at him now!’ she exclaimed, as she saw the photos. ‘I can’t believe it’s the same boy!’
More surprising, however, was the joy of a lady I see when I go swimming. She has never met my son at all, but has heard, from conversations each morning, of the preparation and plans for the wedding. When I tentatively asked her if she would like to see the album, her face lit up. She is struggling with illness and adversity on many fronts, and I felt rather diffident about showing her the photos, because I did not want to seem to be trivialising her difficulties. To my surprise, she expressed enthusiasm for seeing them, saying ‘I need some good news; this is wonderful!’ and spent time looking through every photo with joy, even though she didn’t know any of the people on them apart from me. As she left, she thanked me for showing her the photos; ‘this is the best news I’ve had in ages‘, she said. ‘It’s made my day.’
People need good news. We forget this sometimes. We are not sure how to share the gospel. Sometimes, when we see the scale of the difficulties and problems people face, we don’t always feel it’s appropriate to mention that we have hope and joy and peace, because we feel that that would intrude upon them. But people actually need to know that there is hope and joy and peace, even in the midst of trials and difficulties, and are often far less offended by hearing good news than we think they will be. We need to be willing to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others, because it is the best news they’ll ever hear. Don’t ever forget that.