GPS for the Soul: Good News
Last week, I read an article, entitled, “Is bad news the only kind?” Professor Bruce Sacerdote from Dartmouth College noticed last year that all Covid-19 television coverage from FOX, CNN to PBS was overwhelmingly negative. Even when the news was hopeful, such as cases were on the decline, the news outlets downplayed it, or worse, focused their attention where the news was grim and despairing.
Sacerdote hypothesized is bad news the only kind we humans are interested in? He and two fellow social science researchers created a database that tracked every major network and news outlet, both TV, print, and social media last year. They found 87 percent of news coverage, from conservative to liberal audiences, was dangerously negative. Additionally, they found the stories we shared the most with our friends, families, colleagues even strangers on Facebook were the negative ones. “Why?” The answer surprised me: The media is simply giving Americans what they appear to want. Could this be true?
Jesus spoke from the cross, “I thirst.” And he was served vinegar.
I believe Jesus’s final words “I thirst” illustrated the spiritual dilemma facing every human creature: We are thirsty! We know from science that humans cannot physically survive more than three days without water. But I believe the author of John is asking us to mine Jesus’ words for a deeper meaning. If I was to peek inside to your interior well, or you mine, what would we find? Are we hydrated on the inside or Sahara-dry? Jesus knew intimately how challenging it was to be human especially in this imperfect and often disheartening world. He knew how loss and the ensuing grief, physical and mental pain, the unpredictability, and infinite disappointments we endure over our lifetime literally dries us out from the inside out. It’s the reason Jesus came to us and spent so much of his earthly sojourn gifting us with living water. He knew the only thing that would quench our thirst was hope.
I have a hypothesis. Despite our apparent love, even addiction to the 24/7 news cycle of negativity, deep down, our souls thirst for good news. Over the last year, we have experienced the unnerving loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of life experiences, loss of finances, loss of health, loss of faith. More than ever, we need some of that living water Jesus was offering: a word of hope; to be seen; treasured; loved with no conditions, for the light to break through our darkness; to be offered a new path forward.
Who among us would give our spouse, our beloved child, our neighbor, a stranger vinegar when he, she, or they were thirsty? And yet, at every turn, we accept and even dole out sour wine to one another. No wonder we struggle to hold fast to hope; to believe that God’s kingdom is possible here on earth.
Have we forgotten the taste of the living water and have instead settled for the world’s harsh vinegar?
Just as Jesus told the woman at the well, “You drink of this water—a water composed of the elements of ego, inequality, materialism, self-reliance, secularism, hate and death—metaphorical vinegar on the soul’s tongue—and you will remain thirsty all the days of your life.”
When Jesus spoke those profound words from the cross, I believe he was saying: My soul, your soul, thirsts for Home, for Thy Kingdom Come here as it is in heaven, for redemption, for Something More than this world has the creativity or goodness to provide, for good news. We need hope (not emojis and Southern sweet tea platitudes) but for a hope that is relentless; for a love that heals, finally saves us. We thirst for our Father who loves us at the beginning of time, forevermore.
Careful what you drink here on earth!
We will remain lost, empty, unsure and insecure, scared, doubting, even despairing if we allow ourselves to become servants to the cynical, often disloyal temporal world. Our souls crave good news.
When you thirst from that deep and secret place within you; when you feel doubt slipping past faith’s guard at your heart; when you fear you have forgotten the scent of hope, do not open your phone, flip on the TV, or check your Facebook. Remember, you are thirsting for Something More. For goodness and light. For love and hope. For the Good News! Go! Now! And kneel at His feet!
I don’t know about you, but I need a dose of Easter every day, not just once a year!
May my life, breath by breath, tell an Easter story:
a tale of enduring love
good news in abundance
Heaven brought to earth.
And let this be your Easter anthem: