“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
Okay, let’s take a poll here. Ready? By a show of hands, “Who ever reads the news and gets sucked into the next negative story… then another gloom and doom report… plus one more tale of woe… and then the next… and the next… and so on?”
I see a bunch of hands going up. Probably just about all of us at one time or another, right?
There is a word for this, a descriptive term I believe is profoundly affecting this world – and individual people – in negative ways, and that is “doomscrolling”.
Even if these news reports are all true, with everything coming from unimpeachable sources, we have to remember that as a window into this world, or a cross-section of life, or a snapshot representing truth… too much of the news we read/watch/listen to is neither reliable nor valid.
In other words, doom and gloom is not the whole story, and if we consume it like it is then we are being fooled… manipulated… used… exploited… controlled… handled.
Neither Reliable nor Valid:
Reliability and validity speak to how well a method (in this case news reporting) measures something:
- Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
- Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).
According to science and reason, then, much of the news is neither reliable nor valid. Doomscrolling neither gives us reliable information regarding the true state of our world, nor valid analysis. What it does offer is negativity, anxiety, depression, cynicism, panic, headaches, and – most troubling – a patently inaccurate view of day-to-day life and people, a perspective we then go on to live from and interact with the rest of the day.
Hence our calling – as disciples – to be encouragers. Not just to be encouraged but to do the encouraging. “I have told you these things,” Jesus says, “so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
By being followers of Jesus, then, we are by definition called to follow Jesus in terms of overcoming. And we cannot overcome if we lower ourselves into a miry swamp of negative propaganda every morning before the day hardly begins.
I use the word propaganda with care. Propaganda is the dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion. Deliberateness and a relatively heavy emphasis on manipulation distinguish propaganda from casual conversation or the free exchange of ideas.
It is in the self-interests of many news media outlets to keep readers emotionally fraught, stressed, worried, anxious, off balance, even fearful vis-a-vis what is happening or what might happen. It is a ploy to keep people reading/watching/listening, and to get them to read/watch/listen again later.
But Jesus says, “Take heart, I have overcome the world!”
So what I want us to do today is to think about how we can be encouragers, Christians who influence other people for good. The first and most important thing we can do is to spend more time in the presence of Jesus ourselves, and to make the choice to believe when he tells us to (from a variety of translations):
- “Take heart!”
- “Be of good courage!”
- “Have confidence!”
- “Be brave!”
- “Be courageous!”
- “Be of good comfort!”
- “Take hope!”
- “Be of good cheer!”
- “Be glad!”
Now all that remains is to do the work of an evangelist. Be an evangelist of good courage. Simply tell your story of hope restored.
The good news of Jesus is more compelling and more true than the same tired merry-go-round of defeatism we wallow in day by day.
And that phrase turns out to be a good place to stop on this particular day. Day by day, dear Lord, of you three things I pray: to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. – DEREK
Day by day, day by day, O, dear Lord, three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.