How to handle bad news

Christians handling bad news
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Topic: How to handle bad news and mange to survive it.

In his book, The Journey, Billy Graham described the Christian walk as a “battlefield and not a playground”. Boy, is he right!  I miss Billy Graham on earth.  You know, it is impossible to go through any battle and not take a few blows here and there. It’s expected, right? It’s part of the fight. As you think about how to handle bad news, remember the bad news is part of the hardship of battle. Fighting the good fight while on this earth.

A good soldier endures the hardship and goes through the entire process of struggle. But, hardship is difficult to manage – especially when you “just” receive the news. 

How to handle bad news
You may seem alone; but you are NEVER alone.

When it’s fresh. When you’re still slightly in shock from it you feel as though you were catapulted from an emotional cannon. How do you handle it all? What are some practical steps? I’ve got some based on my own experience.

As you learn how to handle bad news, consider not analyzing the issue while you’re in shock. Identify the people who can help. Envelop yourself in praise and worship. Turn to the Psalms in the Bible and Get professional help, if needed.

Here it is:

1. Save the “Thinking” for later.

After receiving horrible news, don’t try to process any information. You’re shocked and shaken. Instead, just feel what you feel. You’ll have a lifetime to process through what has happened and how. Right after it happens; just be.  I know when I got word my 34-year-old brother, Eric, had died suddenly I made things worse for myself by trying to figure it all out IN THE MOMENT. It wasn’t the time or place for that.

Here’s how I found out:  I was leaving a Sunday evening church service when I got “that” call. 

Already in my car driving, it seemed the entire world went dark. I stupidly tried to continue driving for a moment, but in my shock, I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Tears blinded my vision, my thoughts were racing and my breathing was rapid. I felt as though I was going to pass out – right there behind that wheel!

Thankfully, I had enough sense to turn the car around and head back to the church (Sheffield Family Life Center).

I knew there I’d find someone to help me! And that I did, I found comfort when Spirit-field women and a couple of pastors prayed me through the immediate anguish. I can’t remember them all, but Pastor Fel was there and so was one of my big sisters in the Lord, Wanda. My god mom was with me too. There they were in the women’s bathroom praying and crying out to heaven for strength and peace. All I can remember is standing against a cold, concrete wall and wailing.

Regardless of where you are when you receive life-changing news, take a moment to breathe and collect yourself.

Figure out if you’re in a safe situation or do you need to find one.  Then, still yourself so you can feel what you feel. Don’t try to take care of anyone else for a bit. Just allow yourself to cry, scream or sit on the edge of the bed or even sit in a parked car. Whatever it takes; take care of yourself at that moment.

2. Identify your ‘Ram in the Bush’

During life’s most challenging times, I have two particular friends I keep very close. As I journey through life’s troubling times, they are my encouragers, prayer warriors, and intercessors. Don’t go to the friend who loves the Lord but tends to stress you on the daily with her negativity or depression.

Instead, find someone strong in faith and a resolute spirit. You don’t need bad spiritual advice, you need comfort. You need help.

How to handle bad news

3. Live in the Psalms is how to handle bad news

Praise God for the Psalms! After the shock has worn off, you will need “easy-to-digest” scripture to encourage your spirit in the days ahead.

Psalms is a wonderful source of promises, praise and distress cries for Believers.

Keep searching until you find the one that soothes your spirit. It’s there, you just have to find it.

How to handle bad news as a Christian Woman
Worship and Praise the Lord through your trial.
4. Keep on Praying and Praising.

There is healing in worship.

During the roughest times, worship is like a salve that can soothe your trauma and pain.

It can actually lift your spirit and elevate the presence of God. Or maybe it just makes us more aware of His presence. What do you think? Regardless, worship is crucial.

For me, sometimes, I opt for slow worship songs and other times fast. Either way, worshiping God gives me the strength to go on. Not sure what to praise Him for?

I’ll tell you:

Praise God as you reflect on the trials He’s brought you through in years past.

Praise Him because He’s kind, merciful, and loving. You can trust Him because He has promised not to leave you or forsake you.

In trouble He’ll be there with you – holding you, comforting you, and giving your strength. 

Whatever has happened is not a result of his not loving you. Life is complicated. We may never understand why something did or didn’t happen. But, God remains faithful. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Only babies (immature Christians) turn from him in trouble. Don’t be a dumb baby, Christian Lady. Have – or cultivate- the maturity to allow this thing to build your faith.

Also, don’t neglect your prayer time. Continue to meet with Him one-on-one for strength, communication, and inspiration. Also, it’s ok to be hurt and upset with Him; He can handle your pain, anger, and lamenting. 

Express it. He knows anyway…and guess what…He still loves you so much.

5. Get Outside Help, if Needed.

After a shock, you may need to get counsel, advice, or assistance from a mental health professional.

Christians who act as though counseling is sin make me itch (i.e. mad). They really get on my nerves. 

If your world has been turned upside down by devastating news, it’s absolutely nothing wrong with accessing help from a disinterested third-party.

I’ve lost a lot of people in my lifetime. Losing two brothers within a two-year span was especially traumatic, but God gave me the strength to endure and He will give strength to you too! That’s how to handle bad news.

Don’t give up, you can make it.

You can recover.


Scriptures for when
you get bad news:

Psalm 18:2 ESV

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV  

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

James 5:13 ESV

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

John 15:7 ESV

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 14:18 ESV

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

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How to handle bad news as a Christian Woman.

2 thoughts on “How to handle bad news”

  1. I agree. It’s very difficult – almost counter intuitive. But, so so healing….

    What’s your “go to” song? Mine is Karen Wheaton’s “For every mountain…”

    Appreciate ya Sara!

  2. Thanks for this, Teri. I am struck by the first piece of advice as I, too, try to continue “normalcy” and push back my emotion. Also, love how you said there is healing in worship. It’s so hard to do, but so true.

    You are such an inspiration!!

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