By Michael E. Brooks
“As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25).
My telephone rang early one morning in Alabama. When I answered I soon recognized the caller as a preacher and good friend in Nepal. His voice was full of cheer and I quickly smiled and caught up on the good things happening to him, his family and the churches on the other side of the world. I realized as I talked that I was smiling, and after we hung up the good feeling persisted for some time. The work there was going well, our friends were healthy, and they were preparing for our arrival in the near future.
Some things just make us feel better all over. In the text quoted above, the writer of Proverbs pictures a weary traveler arriving at a well or spring late in the day, with thirst the dominant thing on his mind. There is nothing quite like cool fresh pure water at such a time. In other situations it may be a hot cup of soup, a warm fire or blanket, or a good refreshing bath. Usually, that which refreshes us meets some real and present need.
Given that fact, the role of good news in life is probably underappreciated. We live in a negative world. Most morning newspapers and evening news programs focus on crime, war, economic depression, natural disasters, accidents, illnesses, and death. They seem to be filled with anything but good news. Many dread the ringing of the telephone, or the appearance of a letter or telegram, fearing that any unexpected notification will bring only sorrow.
Good things do happen however. We are blessed in many ways, often hardly realizing or noticing them. When blessings come to us we are refreshed and made to feel good. Many such blessings come from a distance. Our world is not so large, in communications and travel at least, as it once was. Things occurring in remote places affect us more directly and more quickly than before. And we can learn of them far more easily. The time was when we had little interest in things happening much beyond our neighborhoods. Such provincialism today is not only selfish and shallow, it limits our opportunities for improvement and may even be dangerous.
As we broaden our vision to consider all parts of creation we must have two perspectives. First, what have others done that helps (or perhaps threatens) us? Are we aware of changing societies, new markets, great opportunities in other cultures? Someone in a much earlier time noted, “No man is an island”. Never has this been truer than today. We are impacted by what even a poor farmer or fisherman in Asia says, thinks or does. Global awareness prepares us to benefit from the contributions of others.
The second perspective asks, “What can I do to help others? How do my actions affect them?” Each one of our words, thoughts and actions goes much further than we realize. It is not only the person next door who is under our influence. People far from us may feel the ripples from the stones we cast into the lake. The children’s song teaches, “Be careful little hands what you do.” The rational is that God is up above, looking down on us, knowing our deeds. That is true of all of us. But a further motive for care in all we do is that others are affected, some even who are far away. Christians especially should accept that responsibility with soberness. The wonderful aspect of this is that we are able to do and say good things that affect people positively, even in a far country.
By Michael E. Brooks