Hey. I’m just a realist,” they often say. Or the ever-excusable “I just want to keep it real, friend. You need someone like me in your life.”
“Have you ever had a good day?” I asked as she looked at me incredulously.
We had worked together for about a year, and every day there was some sort of undeserved, tragic, life-altering event she needed to drag all of us through. If this wasn’t enough, every time somebody had something good happen to them, she would be the first to chime in with her shot of so-called “Keepin’ it real” perspective. It was more like “Let’s all languish in the mud” perspective. She was on all counts a cynic, and I dodged her like the black plague. I uttered the question above to her after getting stuck in the lunch room and having to politely listen to her for the last eight torturous minutes of my lunch break. She just sat there with her mouth open staring at me. She never answered my question.
During the political season, which we are now deeply mired in, we will hear more negative ads than ever before, and with these candidates, there is a pretty good chance it’s going to be a bit rough. We’ve got to white-knuckle-hang-on to our optimism more than ever. As a Christian, optimism is more than just a nice quality to have, it’s actually quite necessary. In fact, the scriptures have a lot to say about being optimistic.
Being a “realist” isn’t something which helps anyone, and it’s actually not the right word for how people use the term in our culture. A realist sees the reality, both the good and bad, but the folks who use this term are actually cynics, but they just don’t want to use the term. Cynicism isn’t pretty. It’s pretty tough actually, and as Christians, we should be anything but. In the church today, there is no place in any leadership position for the cynic. It is, in fact, a direct affront to the gospel of Jesus and what he means to us.
In truth, everything about Christianity is optimistic. Jesus died for everyone, and excludes no gender, race or anything from the potential of spending eternity with him. John 3:16, right? Jesus came for the WHOLE world, not just a segment, not just a part.
Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Our words should be ones of “building up” not tearing down. This applies to the meetings you’re in, or the things you might post on social media. There are countless scriptures around this idea.
Our most intrinsic understanding of Christianity is that it is an optimistic world view. We have our hero, Jesus. We have salvation for anyone who chooses to love, know, and obey God, believing in the FREE gift of eternal life. We are blessed with the power of prayer, to cast all of our cares upon him and know God hears us and answers our prayers.
I know some of you have seen suffering, and for those of you who know my story, you know I’ve been there with you. Be encouraged, my friends! Even reading my old journals during the darkest times of my life, there are records of blessings and encouragement from God. We have hope! When my troubles first began in 2013 I prayed an honest prayer almost every day, which was something like “God, I have no clue how you’re going to get me out of this mess. I feel like my life is completely ruined. But I trust you, because you tell me to trust you”. And that was really about all I had. I clung to a little hope and kept praying.
If you consider yourself a realist, you may not be thrilled with me right now, but that’s ok. Actually, you probably aren’t thrilled with a lot of things anyway, right? I would simply ask you to pray and look to God’s word about how you view the world around you. If you are in the middle of a firestorm of suffering, stay faithful and hopeful, and just know your story is far from over. If you are surrounded by cynics, make some new friends, because nobody needs negativity in their lives every day.
All of our stories are filled with his grace, forgiveness, and hope, and if your story isn’t, it most certainly can be. Maybe it’s hard to see it all clearly right now, but it doesn’t change the truth about your position with God, as a very much beloved son or daughter. Stay optimistic today my friends about your God, about your life, about your church, and about your future. God is for you!