Watching her husband’s pickup head down the road toward the construction site where he was working, “Mona” had a feeling something bad was going to happen to him that day.
However, Mona had been trained in the art of positive confession, so she brushed the thought from her mind.
It’s just the enemy trying to get me to be fearful and negative.
The feeling came again, stronger this time. Mona got more aggressive and rebuked the negative thought.
Later that day, Mona’s husband was injured when he fell from a roof. She realized then that God had been warning her so she could pray and be emotionally and spiritually prepared.
I’ve heard folks claim that every negative thought is from the devil, and every positive thought is from God.
That’s Norman Vincent Peale-y, but it’s not Bible.
It’s more like my theology as a nine-year-old, when I believed God created everything in the world except poison oak and yellow jackets (my two nemeses at the time).
Allow me to offer a biblical case in point about supposedly negative words.
Agabus is a prophet mentioned twice in the book of Acts—once when he predicts a widespread, severe famine (Acts 11:27-30) and once when he predicts the apostle Paul will be handed over to his enemies (Acts 21:10-14).
The only words recorded in Scripture from Agabus don’t sound very positive.
Here’s where my sometimes-twisted sense of humor goes with this: I imagine folks with a certain mindset on the scene, rebuking the prophet.
“Famine? Really? That’s so negative, Agabus. Why would you even speak that? And Paul being tied up and turned over? We love Paul and we don’t receive that. You should speak life, not death.”
Yet Agabus is spot-on. The famine is a thing, and because the Holy Spirit warns the church through Agabus, the brothers and sisters who would have starved get fed.
(Paul hardly bats an eye at the warning about going to Jerusalem, because he’s ready to die for Jesus anyway. He’s been warned, and he’s okay with it.)
Here’s the thing: disregarding a warning because we only value positive words is not only foolish, but dangerous.
Fast forward to today’s Corona virus crisis.
I’ve noticed people are taking great care in explaining that the precautions they’re taking are not out of fear, but out of honorable responsibility.
I find it sad that we must be so defensive about exercising common sense and kindness to our neighbors—as if real faith looks like recklessness, denial of difficulty and only speaking upbeat words.
It does not.
Real faith means trusting God. It means we pay attention to His warnings, even those that come through circumstances or governmental authorities. It means we listen to wise words even if they aren’t what we prefer to hear.
It means we don’t condemn people for taking precautions.
Yes, we should keep a close watch on our tongues because our words do have power—but we shouldn’t rely on faulty faith formulas as if all outcomes are entirely dependent on our words.
People everywhere are fearful, anxious, distressed, confused and disappointed. Neither cynicism nor flippant responses will help. Now more than ever, let’s be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).
Let’s be calm and wise about warnings as we demonstrate real trust in our faithful God.