Optimism v. Pessimism; May 4, 2018

Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

It just struck me that pessimism is slandering God. If we don’t expect good things from Him, we are saying He is mean or stingy or just doesn’t care. All of those are lies of the devil! We aren’t to be surprised at difficulties. After all, Jesus did tell us that “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) But He followed that immediately with, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Being a pessimist is failing to take heart! God desires good for us. Sometimes our own willfulness blocks that good, and sometimes the sins of others get in the way, but even there God is able to turn it all around to bless us. (Romans 8:28) Christians should be the happiest people in the world. Often they are, but sometimes they are not, and that shows they have swallowed the lies of the devil. There are plenty of evil things in the world, and even tragedies, but if our eyes and hearts are fixed on the omnipotent God who is love itself (1 John 4:8) and who calls us His children, (1 John 3:1) then we will be eagerly looking forward to the next good thing He is going to do for us. Of course, as a good Father He does discipline us, and that can be painful. (Hebrews 12:4-13) However, as David noted, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

For the past year I have been increasingly impressed that pessimism is contrary to faith, and this really fleshes that out. I think I am by nature an optimist, and that is a real blessing, but I have certainly had my down times as well. Sometimes everything seems to gang up on me and things really look dark. When that happens, I need to remember the truth I’ve just written. I was raised to trust that I was a child of God, and that has certainly shaped my optimistic outlook. I’ve even had an acquaintance who is a member of a militant Buddhist sect bring people to meet me because “He wanted them to meet someone who enjoyed living.” That’s a real compliment! However, if I’m to maintain that gift of grace, I’ve got to keep my eyes on Jesus. That’s the message of the first part of Hebrews 12, just ahead of the section on discipline already referenced. (Hebrews 12:1-3) When I take my eyes off of Jesus and fix them on anything else, whether it is a pleasure of this world or a seeming difficulty, I am laying myself open to the attacks of the devil, and that is never good. I am to be a realist, knowing that things can sometimes go very wrong, but at the same time be totally convinced that God is greater than everything else put together, and so rest, relax, and rejoice in Him.

Father, thank You for this glorious reminder. Thank You for everything that went on yesterday. Thank You that Cathy got off safely, and that I can look forward to a call from her before long. Thank You that I could help the young man with his move, and for working out the details of that. Thank You for showing me what to do about meals. Thank You for the good night’s sleep. Thank You that I can indeed anticipate good things for Cathy on her trip, and for me here. Help us both flow with Your Spirit as agents of Your grace to those around us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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