Notice that God does not promise that the righteous will not receive bad news. They will. That is life in this valley of tears. But the righteous will not be afraid. This reminds me of Pope St. John Paul the Great’s first words and constant summons to us in the Church: “Do not be afraid!” He said this because he heard these words repeated by the Lord God throughout Scripture. There is hardly a time in the history of God’s people when that divine challenge is not made. But will we heed it?
Why aren’t the righteous afraid? It’s not that the bad news isn’t so bad. The answer is in the heart: because “his heart is firm.” To ensure that we get the point, the psalmist repeats this point in the next verse: “His heart is steady; he will not be afraid” (Psalm 112:8). Bad news tests the heart. We all know this: with bad news we feel the beating of our hearts as our heart rates steadily increase. But what makes the heart firm and steady? Faith in God. It is “trusting in the Lord” that anchors our hearts, keeping them from being carried away by the waves and wind of fear and anxiety. We need a strong faith to have a strong heart. And we need that strength now more than ever.
Without faith in God, without trust in his ultimate love and victory in the world, we can easily lose our hope. This summer my son became a police officer. I told him that he chose a heck of a time to enter that line of work. In his first day of training, the sergeant told them that one of the primary challenges they would see is the epidemic of youth drug overdose and suicide. The sergeant then recounted that his first call the previous night was for a thirteen-year-old boy who had committed suicide. What might the suicide rate look like if our young people were grounded in the purpose of their lives, the “good news” of the New Testament?