Optimism (from lat.: optimum, „the best“) is a view of life in which the world or a thing is seen from the best side; it generally denotes a cheerful, confident and life-affirming basic attitude as well as a confident attitude determined by positive expectation in view of a thing with regard to the future. (Source German Wikipedia: http://www.de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimismus)
If you look at the world in such a way lately, it could give you the creeps:
- Corona – we all know what happens
- 2019 Notre Dame burnt down in Paris
- Syrian war and the waves of refugees
- War in Yemen
- Protests in Hong Kong
- In March in Christchurch, New Zealand, there is a terrorist attack on Muslims
- In April in Sri Lanka there is an attack on a hotel with 253 dead and over 450 injured
- In October an attack on a synagogue in Halle
- The rain forest in Brazil is burning
- Trade dispute between China and the USA
- Or if you look at society in general: More egoism, the rich get richer and richer, the poor get poorer, politicians get away with obvious lies, crime, violence, lies, …
And so on – I’ll stop that for a while. It can make you sick. And if you look at humanity, not much has changed – despite outwardly alleged tolerance – because we humans are simply human beings and are fallen creatures who rebel against God. This has always been the case since there have been human beings. Man does not learn much from the mistakes of his ancestors either, otherwise we would have no more wars, etc. The world around you seems to have gone mad and is collapsing.
Everybody has to carry his package: Be it an illness, loss of job, sick or deceased relatives, injustice, bad neighbors ;-), fellow men, who give you a hard time, lack of money, etc.
If you look at this, you should actually be depressed and withdraw into your little room, crying and despairing. And I think the devil has his fun whispering these things into our ears all the time to make us feel down and distract us from what is really important!
End of the story.
There is a „but“
But: For us Christians there is something completely different.
A few bible passages:
Psalm 27,1: The LORD is my light and my salvation; of whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I fear?
Psalm 46, 2: God is our confidence and strength, a help in the great need that has come upon us.
Psalm 62, 9: Let your hope in him always, dear people, pour out your heart before him; God is our confidence.
Psalm 73, 28: But this is my joy, that I keep myself unto God, and my confidence is in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.
The Bible paints a completely different picture of life. In the Psalms there is much talk about confidence. And we know: The psalmists were often not well. But they do the decisive thing: They do not despair of the world, but they look up to God. Where does help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! That is the decisive point. Yes, I am afraid for my family and my job; yes, the world looks bad; yes, I may be sick; yes, I am powerless against all the evil. But that is only a part of the truth!
The view upwards
We have heard the words and Jesus himself gives us a promise:
Luke 21,33: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
This means that we can rely 100% on what is written in the Bible!
Also on this promise:
Jeremiah 17, 7: Blessed is the man (I suppose, also the woman ;-)) who relies on the LORD and whose confidence is the LORD.
2 Timothy 1,7: For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and prudence.
These are promises that apply to YOU! You are allowed to claim them. Today. Now. Always!
And how does that work?
Here are a few bible passages:
Genesis 26,7: Then we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers. And the LORD heard our cries and saw our misery, our fear and our distress.
=> We tell God everything that oppresses us. We may – and should – do this with our feelings and all our passion!
John 15, 4: Remain in me and I in you. Just as the vine cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.
=> Let us remain in contact with God, every day, every hour, every second! Talk with God, reflect on Him, sing songs, admire His creation, do His word; that is „stay in touch“.
Hebrews 10,35: Cast not away therefore your trust, which hath a great reward.
=> Let us believe God’s promises, even if it is sometimes difficult for us, in the face of what is happening around us.
Let us decide FOR trust and AGAINST doubt. Let us ask God for help!
After all, we have experienced and proclaimed the Good News. And that is great! I think we should not let our eyes be clouded by the bad things that are happening around us. Instead, we should direct it clearly towards God. I don’t mean running blindly through to the world, but setting the priority right and not letting the world dominate us: Maybe I would rather pick up a Christian book than just read about the omnipresent corona virus. Rather watch a film about God’s wonderful creation than just watch YouTube videos about all kinds of things that are bad in the world. Or singing praise songs instead of joining in the canon of whining. That is „looking up“.
In the end
God does not promise us that we will always do well in this world. We Christians suffer – maybe even more – like every other human being. But we have the happy end in store for us, which we can rely on. In 1 Peter 1, 3 onwards, it says
Praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new life. We are born again because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and now a living hope fills us. It is the hope of an eternal, sinless and indestructible inheritance, which God holds in store for you in heaven. Until then, God will preserve you by his power because you trust in him. And so you will finally experience his salvation, which will become visible to all at the end of time. You rejoice in this with all your heart, even if you are still being put to the test for a short time and have to suffer much. In this way your faith will prove itself and prove to be more valuable and more enduring than pure gold, which was purified in the fire. You will receive praise, glory and honor on the day when Christ comes visible to all. You have never seen him and yet you love him. You believe in him even though you cannot see him now, and your joy is glorious, yes, boundless, for you know that you will reach the goal of your faith: salvation for all eternity.