I’m a congenital pessimist. I came from the womb seeing the glass as half-empty. My temperament makes Charlie Brown seem like Joel Osteen. And I’ve had my share of rainy days and Mondays that have gone on for weeks. But in spite of it all, I’m a Grace-Focused Optimist.

Why? Because of a single fact. It’s cast its optimistic spell over me and when I focus on it, I more positive than Norman Vincent Peale no matter what’s going on in my life.

A student asked a famous theologian in Q&A after the learned man had lectured, “Sir, what’s the greatest theological truth you’ve ever learned?” He answered, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tell me so.”

I can say with Judgment Day honesty Jesus loves me this I know. Amazingly, his love is 20/20 realistic. He loves me even though he knows every skeleton in my closet, where every body is buried, and the things I’d be mortified for you to know (Psalm 139). He loves me so much he went to hell on earth so I won’t go there for eternity (Galatians 3:13). And the love he shows me on the cross valentines every day of my life. It’s this fact that I can say Jesus loves me this I know that is the single fact that persuades me to be a Grace-Focused Optimist.

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How Do I Know?

I share with you now four (4) ways I know Jesus loves me. I share them because I know my experience is a mirror in which you’ll see yourself. And as you do you will see the one fact that ought to make you a Grace-Focused Optimist, too.

1. Jesus loves me this I know because he’s patient with me.

I’ve been a minister for forty-five years. I’ve been paid to live a Quiet Time life by praying and reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting God’s word—then Sunday by Sunday stepping into a pulpit and sharing what I’ve learned. By now I ought to know Jesus better than a husband and wife know each other after fifty years together. Yet I hear him say, “Have I been with you so long, Charley, yet you know me so little?” But he’s patient with me. He has not broken this bruised reed; he has not quenched this smoking flax.

Doesn’t Jesus love you this way too? And doesn’t that give you reason to be a Grace-Focused Optimist? The fact that you can say Jesus loves me this I know assures you God is always up to your good.

2. Jesus loves me this I know because he’s merciful to me.

My prodigal heart knows the far country as well as a London cabbie knows his city. At times I have: denied the Lord like Peter; murmured against him like the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness; and doubted him like elderly Sarah questioning God’s stork promise. I daily lament with Paul that the good I want to do I don’t and the evil I don’t want to do. I know I am the least of all the saints. Yet every time I say, ‘Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me” he does (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Doesn’t Jesus love you this way too? And doesn’t that give you reason to be a Grace-Focused Optimist? The fact that you can say Jesus loves me this I know assures you God is always up to your good.

3. Jesus loves me this I know because he’s serendipitous with me.

A man madly in love with a woman loves surprising her with unexpected tokens of his love. I say with wonder that Jesus does the same with me (Mark 5:43). Like the other day. On Facebook a minister from another country —another country!—posts a picture of a meal he’s about to eat before going to a bible study. His food’s in the middle of the picture. On the left is his bible. On the right is a copy of Grace-Focused Optimism. It was Jesus treating me with the sweet thought, ‘Charley, I’m using you in ways you can’t imagine!”

Doesn’t Jesus love you this way too? And doesn’t this give you reason to be a Grace-Focused Optimist? The fact that you can say Jesus loves me this I know assures you God is always up to your good.

4. Jesus loves me this I know because he’s helpful to me.

I can sing with David, “By you I can leap over a wall, by you I can run against a troop” (Psalm 18:29). I’ve slung a stone into the head of a Goliath temptation or two (1 Samuel 17:49). I’ve known at times a Job-like contentment allowing me to say in hardship, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). I’ve been able at times to forgive as Joseph forgave his brothers (Genesis 50:20). In sum, the story of my life is the same as the Psalmists: “This poor man cried and the Lord heard and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:6).

Doesn’t Jesus love you this way too? And doesn’t this give you reason to be a Grace-Focused Optimist? The fact that you can say Jesus loves me this I know assures you God is always up to your good.

The Sweetest Name I Know

Think for a moment of everything that’s disappointing and discouraging you. Your spirit sinks like the pulse rate of a dying man, doesn’t it? Now think for a moment of the fact you can say Jesus loves me this I know. Your spirit rises like a bullet shot in the air, doesn’t it?

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus / Sweetest Name I know / Fills my every longing / Keeps me singing as I go.

It’s impossible to say Jesus loves me this I know without being persuaded to live as a Grace-Focused Optimist.

Isn’t this one fact persuading you now?

Jesus loves me this I know!

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