The Worst News Becomes the Best: Dangerous Mission

Editor’s Note: This is the final excerpt from a sermon on the book of Daniel, which was originally shared in January 2020, at the KL2020 Gospel Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just as news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan was beginning to dominate the media. In the midst of an uncertain time, this sermon calls Chinese believers to follow God in the midst of chaos and danger. (Here are parts one, two, and three.)

This excerpt has been condensed and edited for both clarity and length.

The Gospel Is the Worst News

Do you truly understand what it means for the gospel to be the worst news – so it may become the best news of all? Before you have kids, your parents pressure you to hurry and have kids. But once you have children, your [traditional Chinese] parents will be disappointed if you gave girls, not boys. My wife and I tried three times, and we have three daughters. My parents were disappointed. “Look at your sister,” they said. “She has two sons. What about you?”

“I said, ‘Lord, I cannot lose her. I do not now how to live if I lose her. Do whatever you want, but don’t let me lose this daughter.’

All humans are like this. No one wants bad news; we want good news.

Two years ago, we found out one of my daughters had cancer. As a parent, I am biased; I like this third daughter of mine in every possible way. I said, “Lord, I cannot lose her. I do not now how to live if I lose her. Do whatever you want, but don’t let me lose this daughter.” I know every parent understands my heart.

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Yet the doctors told us she had a very serious type of cancer. How can you face that? You begin to think about the worst outcome. I wonder how many more days and how many more seconds we have together on earth. Every time I leave this daughter, I feel I am losing time with her. I cherish the time we have together.

One day, I suddenly had a realization. As long as we are together, I have already been given the greatest blessing. As parents, we want our children to be number one in the world. We want them to succeed. But my wife and my biggest dream is merely to see our daughter. That is our greatest blessing, yet we cannot even control that.

Life went on like this, until one day, as I was pleading with the Lord, I had a realization. He said, “You are so afraid of losing your daughter, but I have already lost my child. What are you afraid of? Do you not understand? You cannot save your most beloved. Either your children will send you to the grave, or you will send them to the grave. This is life.”

The Gospel Becomes the Best News

I suddenly realized that, if worst comes to worst, we will all die. Yet that is not such a big deal. God says, “Death is in me, and life is in me.” Although I have been preaching the gospel for more than ten years, that moment was when I truly understood what the gospel really is. I understood what it meant to lose your son or daughter: to have everything is to lose everything. The gospel must first become the worst news in our lives, so that it can then become the best news of grace.

The gospel says that, even if we have the best vision, we must still realize that we are truly blind. The gospel shows us that, although we have hands and feet, we are crippled. The gospel makes us understand that, although we have a husband, we must see ourselves as widows. Even though we have children, we must live as though we are barren. Even though we have a billion dollars, we are penniless. Only the gospel can truly make us understand that not only will we one day have to die, but we actually deserve to die. Before the gospel becomes good news, it gives us the worst news of all.

“God says, ‘Let those who are hopeless in this life, live.’ This is the dangerous gospel I bring to each of you.

We cannot place our hope in this world. The gospel teaches that the blind can see, the lame can walk, widows are given husbands, and beggars become rich. Everyone knows the lion’s den was Daniel’s mark of grace. My daughter is my mark of grace. But every mark of grace points to Jesus Christ, to the worst and best of news. Most precious of all is that, before Jesus became the best, he descended to the worst.

Brothers and sisters: people of this world pursue what seems to be the best in the moment for themselves, only to be left with the worst things of all. The wisdom of the wise tells us that things do not have to be good right now – perhaps things are at their darkest moment – but in the end it will be the best. Amen!

Use your imagination as you consider this current pandemic. If this is a true pandemic, what will come next? Hunger? Riots? Lockdowns? The gospel teaches bad news to all who are living. The Bible tells those of us who are now alive that we must be crucified. Yet the gospel becomes comfort to those who are hopeless in this world and those who are prepared to die.

God says, “Let those who are hopeless in this life, live.” This is the dangerous gospel I bring to each of you.

Who Can Give Us True Hope?

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father,

“We again come before you, asking you to eradicate all hope in this world. Instead, give us the hope of resurrection.

We thank you. You first brought us to death, giving no choice and no way other than to repent. When we see our sins, we cry out, “O Lord, we need to repent, we must repent!” Who can give us true hope? No one in this world: not our nation, not our relatives, not our friends. Lord, you teach us that this world is a deadly world. The gospel teaches those who still hope in this world that they ought to be hopeless. Yet, Lord, give those who already realize that the world is hopeless the hope of the gospel, for it is the eternal hope of resurrection.

We again come before you, asking you to eradicate all hope in this world. Instead, give us the hope of resurrection. Let the grace of the resurrection of your Son and the grace of your love be with us always, so every one of us can firmly grasp the mark of your grace. When we think about this mark, we will think about the price you have paid for us, so that we might know that we are truly beloved.

Lord, I want to be with you. You are Immanuel. Thanks be to God.

We pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen!

Simon Liu is a church planter and works with church planting networks.



Pray for Chinese Christians to find their hope in God, not in this world.

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