In our three previous posts on Hebrews 12:5-13 we’ve seen that trials are as certain as rain in Seattle; as potentially profitable as a big day on Wall Street; yet as easily mishandled as a poisonous snake in the hands of a frightened faith healer.

The Truth About Optimism

So, the question: How do we handle our trials so that we profit from them? Hebrews 12 answers “By facing them as Grace-Focused Optimists.” This involves understanding the help that two truths about optimism give us. Let’s look at each.

1. Optimism is crucial to handling your trials profitably. The late Zig Ziglar was a motivational speaker. Since he was a Christian he was an optimist by conviction and choice. Zig’s talks insisted that optimism is crucial to successful living. This section of Hebrews echoes that insistence, especially when life is hard. Reread the passage slowly and carefully and you’ll see that it lives, moves, and has its being in optimism.

The passage emphasizes optimism in a time of trial because of the benefit of optimism. Optimism enables you to “be subject to the Father of spirits” (verse 9). Subjection involves the twofold response of childlike trust in and loving allegiance to your heavenly Father. Both of these are the fruit of optimism.

Optimism produces childlike trustThat’s because optimism comes from seeing trial the way God sees it. When you see it that way, you’ll trust him as a three year old trusts her mother. That kind of trust works wonders in your life. The great boxer Joe Louis once said, “I like money. It calms my nerves.” Childlike trust is even more calming.

Optimism produces loving allegiance – Remember, optimism comes from seeing trial the way God sees it. When you see it that way it leads you to cling to him the way Ruth clung to Naomi in that marvelous Old Testament story of a daughter-in-law’s faithfulness to her mother-in-law.

When you subject yourself to God in childlike trust and loving allegiance, you will “live” (verse 9). That’s shorthand that means you will benefit from trial by “sharing in God’s holiness” (verse 10). Sharing in God’s holiness means becoming more like Jesus. And the more you become like Jesus the more you will know of the things that make life life—things like love, joy, peace, gentleness, and faith.

It’s this fact that optimism leads to childlike trust that leads to becoming more like Jesus that makes optimism crucial to handling your trials profitably.

2. The optimism God wants you to have in every trial you face is optimism about him. The heart of this optimism is the truth that this trial, no matter how severe, comes from your heavenly Father for your good. God gives us four reasons why he wants us to be optimistic about him even in our hardest times.

God wants you to be optimistic that your trial comes from him. While Satan, evil people, weather, the bad decisions of others, and—at times at least—even your bad decisions may be involved in your trial, none of these things had the final say-so about its entrance into your life. Every bear trial that mauls you lumbers out of the woods of God’s decision. Each is “of the Lord,” “by him,” (verse 5 and the entire passage).

God wants you to be optimistic that your trial comes from him as your Father. The central nervous system of this entire passage is God’s Father-child relationship with us through Jesus (verses 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Jesus emphasizes that having God as our Father means having him as our “Abba”. Look at how God related to Jesus and you have a flesh and blood Google answer to the question “What does it mean to have God as Abba?” Having God as your Abba means having God relate to you the way he related to Jesus—all the time.

God wants you to be optimistic that your trial, coming from him as your Abba, is coming to you because he loves you. It’s a startling, stunning, soul-encouraging fact that the very thing we question when trial’s talons rip our souls in shreds—how can God love us and treat us this way?—is here asserted, affirmed, and assured. “For the Lord disciplines those he loves” (verse 6). Christian, the same love that sent Jesus to the cross for you; the same love that brought you to faith; the same love that has forgiven you; the same love that has stood with you through thick and thin; and the same love from which nothing can separate you (Romans 8:35ff)—that love and nothing less than that love; that love and nothing other than that love; that love has allowed this trial.

God wants you to be optimistic that your trial, coming from him as your Abba, coming in love, comes for your good. Again, it comes to help you become more like Jesus. Every trial you face is the OR where the Great Physician—your loving Abba—works to make you think, speak, and act more like Jesus. Even a trial that is the equivalent of a “scourging” (the literal translation of verse 6b: “and scourges every child whom he receives”), even then, no, a thousand times no!, ESPECIALLY then, the trial has come because you are Abba’s beloved child and he’s out to make of you something that will cause you to praise him for all eternity.

Preach the Truth

So, when trial comes, “do not forget the exhortation that addresses you as sons” (verse 5). In other words, PREACH these truths to yourself. Remind yourself that you are Abba’s child, that Abba is dealing with you, that Abba is dealing with you in love, that Abba is working to make you like Jesus because the best thing he can do for you is make you the spitting image of his Son and your Savior.

PREACH these truths to yourself by scolding yourself and rebuking yourself and reminding yourself that YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN.

You are ABBA’S CHILD. And Abba is always up to your good.

You can be optimistic about that because it’s true.

Are you living wisely by serving Jesus? Download our free Bible Study on being useful: No Little People


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