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The Good News About Bad News

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. — Psalm 112:6–7

Imagine this scenario: You are invited to a party by a friend, and as you arrive, you are greeted with big smiles and gracious hospitality. There is a beautiful spread of food and an elegant selection of wines. The other guests begin to arrive, all dressed in their best attire, and the music starts up. Everything looks perfect. There’s just one problem; you don’t know what the party is for. So you ask your friend: “What are we celebrating?” He replies: “I lost my job!”

While this scene may seem a little strange and out of place, the Jewish sages teach that this kind of response to bad news is totally appropriate. Jewish tradition teaches that we are supposed to be just as grateful for the bad stuff in our life as we are for the good things. But even when we have faith that things will turn out OK when bad things happen, can we actually be thankful?

In Psalm 112, the psalmist wrote: “Surely the righteous will never be shaken . . . They will have no fear of bad news.” How is it that the righteous are never shaken? How is it that they aren’t afraid of hearing bad news? Because “their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”

Try this exercise: Think of a time when you received some “bad” news that ended up in the long run being good or even the best news? Can you think of anyone who lost a job only to find a much better one? Or someone who has gone through a painful, broken relationship, only to find a more healthy and loving one later on? Ultimately, were they not thankful for the changes that they had to make?

We won’t always be able to understand how the bad things can be good for us because we don’t always know what God intends for us. But we can know deep in our hearts that God wants what is best for us so we can serve Him better. Knowing that everything in our lives is a part of God’s plan helps us celebrate the good with the bad.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

Hebrew Word of the Day
February 21, 2016
Theme: Psalms

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