A group of elderly Jewish men meet every Wednesday for a coffee and a chat. They drink their coffee and then sit for hours discussing the world situation. Usually, their discussion is very negative.
One day, Moishe surprises his friends by announcing, loud and clear, “You know what? I’ve now become an optimist.”
Everyone is totally shocked and all conversation dries up.
But then Sam notices something isn’t quite right and he says to Moishe, “Hold on a minute, if you’re an optimist, why are you looking so worried?”
Moishe replies, “Do you think it’s easy being an optimist?” *
It’s indeed tough to be an optimist if you look at global mayhem for long. This past week, I (Dawn) got so stressed and negative about the news on television (which I watch a lot to help in research for my day job), that I jumped up and grabbed the remote. “That’s it for today!” I said.
Wars, earthquakes, a tsunami, radiation in water, food shortages, financial meltdowns, government overspending and waste, dead birds and fish, leadership vacuum, cultural moral decay … you name it! The world is a scary place these days.
A quote by blogger Robert Brault made me laugh last week: “The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser ~ in case you thought optimism was dead!”
That helped me laugh and re-think my anxiety a bit. It’s true, isn’t it? Yes, the world is falling apart. Yes, there are many reasons to become pessimists. But this world is not the whole story.
Because the Christian has an eternal perspective, there is hope beyond today! The scripture that speaks to my heart today is a verse often used during the Easter season: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Other versions say, “most miserable.” It’s so true. Without eternal perspective, some things on earth just don’t make sense.
This sinful world is spiraling toward the Last Days, and Jesus told us we could expect many signs to arise together as His return draws near (Matthew 24:33-34; Luke 21:11, 25-26). Paul spoke of creation “groaning and travailing in pain” (Romans 8:22); and Jesus spoke of “birth pangs” that increase in the End Times (Matthew 24:8).
Jesus also told his disciples that they would face suffering, but suffering has purpose in the economy of God.
I think of Joseph in the Old Testament. He had many reasons to become a pessimist, but one day he acknowledged that God intended all of his suffering for good (Genesis 50:20). Suffering is not without purpose; our trials help us build faith and endurance and are “not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 5:1-5; 8:18). Paul assures us that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28). We also know that when Jesus returns as the Judge, He will set things right again (Acts 10:42; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
The world loves to tell us that the glass is half empty … and leaking! But Christians have many reasons to believe that the glass is not only half full, but that the daily infusion of Living Water makes a huge difference!
Blogger Rich Dixon posted “100 Significant Scriptures” earlier this year ~ scriptures that he said shaped his life and perspective ~ and I found reading them so encouraging. Dixon’s purpose was to find his own “life verse,” but in the process, he was encouraged by the scriptures he read. (This would be a good exercise for all of us, to find our own faith-and-joy builders!)
So friend, look into the Word and trust the truth and promises of God. Then, look toward heaven, awaiting Jesus’ return, and serve Him with courage and commitment. You have many reasons to be an optimist!