Isaiah 52:7-10. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
“I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” If you’re the recipient, which would you want to hear first? If your answer is the bad news, you are among the 78% of people who desire to get the bad news out of the way first. After all, who wants to be worrying about all the terrible things the bad news could be as your spouse, friend, doctor, teacher, or boss is telling you what’s good? However, as news givers, we usually do the reverse. Between 65-70% choose to give the good news first, then the bad news. We prefer to spoon out the sugar first, thinking that will soften the blow—yet we forget that the person sitting across from us would want to hear the news the same way we would. Why the difference? Given a choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate. We favor sequences of events that rise rather than fall, that improve rather than deteriorate, that lift us up rather than bring us down.
In other words, there’s something inside us that desires hope.
In Isaiah’s time, the people were waiting on some news. They had experienced the pains of exile for so long, and they knew their future was completely dependent on God. Though they had received bad news after bad news—much which started with their own doing-- they clung to hope. But then it was time to listen. The news they had been waiting for was delivered. It’s stated in cosmic terms: “Your God reigns!” There was much to be excited about, to take joy in. The victory that was proclaimed did not belong to a certain world leader, nationality, or ideology, but to God alone. The watchmen could not stop themselves from breaking into joyful song. And their singing called forth a party from all the ends of the earth. This joy was rooted in who God is and what he has promised: He is coming, bringing peace, bringing real hope for the entire world. Good news you want to hear. Good news that changes everything.
Good news changes your perspective of bad news.
Bad news is real. Most of us are very cognizant of the battles we face and the battles around us, the many places of disappointment, pain, and death which the celebration of Jesus’ birth does not do away with. But the lenses of good news that Christ gives us allow us to see those things in a very different way. We come to know that the bad news never is the end, never has the final say. That thing inside us, the thing that prefers the good news last, is right. There IS hope. Because there is Christmas.
Are you listening?