When I say we need to share more "negative testimonies," I am talking about sharing stories of how we did not get the answer to prayer that we were looking for, or how our circumstances did not improve. Now, please, don't misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that we need to get in the business of moping or complaining. I also wouldn't promote the idea of putting people up on stage to share how they are just mired in the middle of a terrible circumstance, they've prayed for years, maybe even decades, done everything they know to do, and still see no hope for the future. But I do think that people in the Church should feel safe sharing those feelings. And I believe one way to do that, would be to become more intentionally about highlighting stories from people who have felt exactly that way--or even still do from time to time--and have a testimony of how God worked and is still working in them or through them even in those circumstances--often precisely because of those circumstances. No sugar coating it. The circumstance didn't get better--God didn't answer the prayer the way I wanted, but here I am and I want to tell you that God is still good, and here is what he is doing in my life. For every person who shares a testimony of how God is so good because he healed Grandma, I think we should have someone share (not necessarily at the same time) about how God didn't heal Grandma, but he is working that person--the circumstances haven't changed, but the person has. Think about it this way: even when Jesus was on earth, there were far more blind people, even in the cities where he walked, that he didn't heal than those he did--far more who couldn't walk, who remained so until their death, than those whom he told to stand up. That may be an even more provocative thing to say, but I have no reason to think it isn't true. The important takeaway is that it has always been the case that many, many more people who have been powerfully changed by coming to Jesus, and walking with him, than just those who have experienced some miraculous outward healing or change of circumstances. And those stories are valuable and need to be heard.
Another reason this is important, is because it helps to present an accurate picture of God, Christianity, and the Gospel. Unfortunately, many people tend to think that God is good simply because God does good things for them. My life is comfortable = God is good. That makes God "good" in the same way that a properly functioning vending machine is good--it gave me what I wanted. But that is totally the wrong way of looking at it. God isn't good because he does good things, God does good things because he is good. And since goodness is an essential property of God, it doesn't change. God is still good--always good--even if he doesn't do the particular good thing that one was hoping for. Truly, even if one's whole life might be classified as "not good"--God is still good.
Now, you might read that and think, "well, duh, everyone knows that." But I think you'd be surprised by the number of people (often even many well meaning believers) who have an incorrect picture of God that boils down to, "God is good because things are good." That is an especially popular misrepresentation of God in America today thank to "prosperity" or "health/wealth" teachers. But it is not limited to the circles around those false teachers. As I said, even many well meaning believers hold to this incorrect view of God and his goodness--for any number of reasons. Sadly, the first time they encounter serious suffering in their lives, many of these individuals will abandon Christianity. They put all of their eggs in the "God is good because things are good" basket, and in the face of tremendous pain, that gets smashed to bits. They walk away from God and Christianity, but in reality, it is a false God and a false Christianity that they are walking away from. They reject the Gospel, but it is because they heard the good news was something other than what it truly is. Charles Spurgeon famously said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” On that same note, I would say, "If they are going to reject the Christian faith, at least let them reject the real thing, and not some cheap knock-off." For that reason, I believe Christians ought to more often share what I am calling here, "negative testimonies." Not only for the health of their fellow believers, but also in order to correctly represent God, Christianity, and the Gospel to the world.
*I only mean "rare" in terms of percentage of people experiencing them. I'm not downplaying the fact that there are a LOT of great and inspiring stories. Nor am I suggesting that the only victory stories worth sharing are the giant, miraculous kind.