Pessimism is to our spirit what kryptonite is to Superman. It weakens us as that green rock weakened the Man of Steel.
Optimism about God—that grace-sired assurance that God is with us and for us—is to our spirit what momentum is to a football team, wind is to sails, and a tough-to-please dad’s “great job” is to a son’s confidence. Optimism makes you “more than conqueror” (Romans 8:37) even when you’re walking in the valley of the shadow.
The Fight for Optimism
The fight of faith is the fight to stay optimistic about God. And there are times when the fight is as hard as the fight to cut down a California Redwood sized bad habit.
One of these times is when optimism about God is attacked by the warrior of a self-caused misery.
What’s a self-caused misery? You’ve made a decision those closest to you thought was a terrible mistake and tried to prevent. And now it’s clear they were right and the oasis of that new job or marriage to an unbeliever or “can’t miss” investment is a mirage after all.
What’s a self-caused misery? Something you’ve done many times before with impunity now metastasizes into a seemingly inoperable problem. So your temper or wisecracking or opinionated-ness wounds friends and they withdraw.
What’s a self-caused misery? It’s when you say or do something so out of bounds that you’re ashamed or humiliated or embarrassed. And the wound is salted with fear that the mess is unfixable.
How can you be optimistic when bleeding from self-inflicted wounds?
By focusing on this promise from God that can raise your Lazarus optimism from the tomb of pessimism: For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV translation).
Read 2 Chronicles 16 and you’ll see that the full commitment in mind isn’t being as dedicated to God as the Apostle Paul. It’s the full commitment of the scared three-year old boy daddy’s trying to coax into the pool. “C’mon, jump—daddy’ll catch you!” And relying on daddy’s trustworthiness and strength, the boy fully commits by hurling himself at dad and fear morphs to glee as he’s caught.
God’s Easter Sunday encouraging promise here is, you can be optimistic that, if you’ll rely on Me, I’ll help you in your self-caused misery.
We can be optimistic in our self-caused miseries that God will always forgive us. He gives us His word that no matter how badly we’ve blown it, He’ll forgive us when we humbly grieve before Him for what we’ve done and ask Him to forgive us for Jesus’ sake (Matthew 5:4; 1 John 1:9). He did this with David when he confessed his adultery (2 Samuel 12:13-14) and Peter when he confessed his denial of Jesus (John 21:15-17). We can be sure He’ll always do the same with us.
We can be optimistic in our self-caused miseries that God may choose to make His grace a SWAT team and rescue us completely from the misery we’re in. He delivered Abraham (Genesis 12:10-20), Lot (Genesis 19:16), Hezekiah (1 Kings 22:32-33), and David (1 Samuel 29) in this way from their self-caused miseries. He may do it for you. Ask Him to (Philippians 4:6-7).
We can be optimistic in our self-cause miseries that if God doesn’t deliver us He’ll do something just as wonderful by giving us everything we need to work through the misery and come out on the other side more like Jesus. That’s what He did with Jonah by using his self-caused miseries to make him more compassionate (Jonah 1-4) and with Peter by using his self-caused miseries to make him a Christ-like shepherd of God’s people (Luke 21:31-32; 1 & 2 Peter). That’s what He’ll do for you.
God’s Easter Sunday encouraging promise is: You can be optimistic that, if you’ll rely on Me, I’ll help you in your self-caused misery.
But whatever He does, 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells you to resist the devil’s attempt to demoralize you with the pessimism that your self-caused misery is a spiritual cul-de-sac. Instead, fuel your soul with the optimism that if you’ll rely on your Father and cry out to Him like a drowning man; if you’ll tell Him you’re in a mess of your own making, a mess you can’t fix; if you’ll ask Him to forgive you and help you for Jesus’ sake something wonderful will happen.
He’ll amaze you once again with His grace!