Journalism, particularly newspaper journalism, is sometimes referred to as “the first rough draft of history.” This phrase is usually attributed to Philip Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post. It’s a useful phrase because it is flattering to journalists to know that their work is important and meaningful, but also a reminder that their work is inherently imperfect and in need of later revision. Particularly under deadline pressure, it is impossible to know all the relevant facts and potential angles of any story. Unavoidable and expedient choices and compromises must be made. The saying came to mind when I recently read Psalm 33:10-11, which says:
“The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.”
As I’ve written before, total objectivity is “theoretically impossible for anyone but God Himself.” The best any news reporting can do is cover a tiny piece of what happens in the world, screening it using whatever judgment they decide to use, and applying imperfect ethical standards. As I’ve also written, “The dots of the pointillistic narrative are never the full picture and sometimes aren’t the right color.” Thus is the “counsel of the nations” – incomplete by necessity, biased by choice, and morally imperfect by nature.
In contrast, what God says is true is always true, unlike the 24/7 news cycle where truth is constantly under revision. The “counsel of the LORD” contains everything we need to know about His plans, is designed by His choice to benefit those He loves, and morally perfect because His nature is holy. If better counsel existed, He would know about it. His counsel reliably informs us about how He wants us to view the events of the world, rather than the other way around. His plans frustrate and overcome the “plans of the peoples”, rather than the other way around.
When Jesus said on the cross that “it is finished,” His payment for our sins was complete. He lived a perfect life in our place, so that He could be a perfect sacrifice and atone for all the sins of His people in all times and all places. This was not a rough first draft, but the flawless consummation of God’s plan for salvation “to all generations.” Jesus made no flawed choices for the sake of expedience, and His work can be trusted at all times. Whatever you see in the news today, the Good News of the kingdom of heaven is more important, more trustworthy, and provides comfort for your soul.
His Story is the first draft, but it is also the only draft because none other is needed. His Story needs no revision.
“Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.” – Psalm 33:20-22
 John 19:30