Coping with Bad News
Several months ago I saw a column in a trade publication that caught my eye. The store owner who wrote it opened with the line: “Repeat after me: ‘God is bigger than Amazon.’”
She went on to describe how she had been staving off the retail recession that has hit so many stores—but particularly Christian retailers—in recent years.
She told of visiting churches to ask for their business, a step that God directed her to take seven years ago.
The idea was working better than expected. One large church placed three orders the next day and invited her to set up a booth at its forthcoming women’s conference.
The retailer talked about landing another piece of business she could have had if she had started visiting churches much earlier.
Then she commented that God may have allowed Amazon to “burn the dross out” of Christian retail stores, deepen owners’ faith, or other purposes they couldn’t see.
“Be refreshed in your mission,” she said near the end. “Be aware that God has His hand on you and is aware of your circumstances.”
I made a copy of that column and stuck it on my desk for reference, not knowing I would refer back to it for inspiration a few weeks ago.
It happened the day LifeWay Christian Stores announced it was closing down all its brick-and-mortar retail locations—all 170 of them.
I had been expecting some kind of cutback because of a previous story announcing the chain would be downsizing its retail operations.
Cutting back, yes, but I never dreamed that all stores would be eliminated, which has happened to several others in recent years.
As one who primarily writes Christian books, I hate to see these stores slowly fade away.
Not because it necessarily means any less book sales; after all, LifeWay said one reason it is closing its retail stores is because it does five times as much business online.
But online sales aren’t centers of community support. They don’t pray with customers, sponsor bake sales, or host book signings. They aren’t a tangible presence in cities that desperately need them.
More Bad News
I received two other distinctly bad pieces of news the same day I learned of LifeWay’s move.
Not long before reading it, an editor I have known for 15 years told me the company that was to publish a book I have been rewriting was closing its doors.
The book will still get published; the editor has a side business helping authors get their works into print.
And, I will still get paid for additional revisions—just not as much as I had been expecting.
Within hours, I also responded to a Facebook birthday greeting from the agent who had represented me on a past book project.
I asked if she might be interested in pitching a devotional I was editing to publishers; I told her the material was excellent.
She responded to say that she wasn’t taking on any new projects. Since the term of our contract was over, she said, I should feel free to approach another agent.
Not exactly the kind of answer I had expected. In fact, by the end of the day I felt like I had been gut-punched by a bruiser twice my size.
After a good night’s rest and sharing about these shocks the next day with a friend, I felt better.
It also helped to re-read that store owner’s column and the words: “Rise above these challenges in prayer and allow (God) to talk you through them.”
We can always use reminders that He is Lord and is never dismayed about anything that happens. Even when we can’t see the why or what of events.