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Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

Perhaps you’ve also heard these definitions:

  • A pessimist is a person who is seasick during the entire voyage of life.
  • An optimist is a person who goes in a restaurant with no money, and fully expects to pay for his meal with the pearl he finds among the oysters that he plans to order.
  • A realist is a person who does precise guesswork based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.

M-m-m. According to those tongue-in-cheek definitions, who would aspire to any of these three attitudes?

Truth be told, pessimists often do identify worst-case scenarios and sometimes think God doesn’t care or he’d intervene. Optimists can believe God will always make good things happen, if we just have enough faith. Realists might not focus on the negative, yet still be cautious about expecting God’s involvement in their circumstances.

But what if he desires that we expect great things–things like strength to endure, help to solve problems, provision for needs, and guidance for decisions? Nineteenth century pastor/author Andrew Murray suggested:

It occurred to me that we Jesus-followers might aim past pessimism, realism, or optimism, toward up-timism. No, you won’t find that word in Webster’s. But according to the Nancy Ruegg Dictionary of Words We Need the up-timist looks up toward God, trusting that out of his love, goodness, and wisdom, he will do what is right.

Up-timists also take to heart the promises of scripture, they remember God’s faithfulness in the past, and affirm who he is in all his glorious attributes.

This doesn’t mean up-timists are perpetually giddy with cheer. But even as tears of pain or grief course down their cheeks, they rest in their Heavenly Father with joy. They’ve learned how to be “sorrowful but always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Consider these words from the great preacher Charles Spurgeon: “We ought to be glad and rejoice forever in that which God creates. Ours is a heritage of joy and peace. My dear brothers and sisters, if anybody in the world ought to be happy, we are the people. . . How boundless our privileges! How brilliant our hopes!”[1]

These words were penned when Spurgeon was deathly ill. Though he rallied for a time, the great theologian graduated to heaven six months later.

In the letter to his people excerpted above, he included a main characteristic of the up-timist: hope.

Hope is the confident expectation that God will use our painful circumstances for good . . . it’s what allows us to choose to rejoice amid hardships and to say to God, “I will rejoice in You.”[2]

By contrast, pessimists are often characterized by fatalism, realists by over-confidence in their own perceptions, and optimists by wishful thinking.

But up-timists affirm such confident expectations as these:

  • The Lord preserves those who are true to him . . . Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:23-24).
  • Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken (Psalm 62:5-6).
  • You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word (Psalm 119:114).

Hope isn’t an automatic response in times of hardship, even for up-timists. We have to exercise our determination. One way is to speak truth to ourselves–with conviction. The scriptures listed above offer a good place to start.

Other truths include:

  • I know God has a purpose in this circumstance (Proverbs 19:21).
  • I know God will bring me through (Isaiah 40:29-31).
  • I know God is a good and loving Father, and he’s working toward the eternal perfection of his kingdom, for the benefit of all who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Note how God is at the center of the up-timist’s hope. She expects God to work in her life and in the world, anticipates the fulfillment of his promises, and looks forward to seeing his will unfold.

Note also that “hope doesn’t change what we see, like the lens of optimism or pessimism, hope changes us to withstand the journey this side of heaven with enduring joy, peace, and contentment.”[3]

So–would you describe yourself as an up-timist? How does that point of view impact your life? Please share in the comment section below!


[1] https://www.epm.org/blog/2019/Oct/23/godly-optimism.

[2] Jennifer Rothschild, Lessons I Learned in the Dark, 95.

[3] Kim Striver, https://www.coreradiate.com/blog/optimist

Photo credits: http://www.canva.com; http://www.freebibleimages.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.canva.com.

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(Reblogged from 12-30-13)

 

A new year requires a new calendar. Don’t you just love the crisp, uncurled pages–the empty spaces for each day, filled with nothing but optimistic possibilities?

Perhaps you’re starting the new year with a fresh journal. Again, the pristine pages are filled with nothing but hope and expectation.

We might also desire to start the new year with:

New eyes—to see the glory of God around us.
New ears—to hear his still, small voice.
New resolve—to follow God’s direction.
New courage—to speak his truth boldly.
New faith—to live with confident trust in our Heavenly Father.

These abilities cannot be bought at Barnes & Nobles, like a calendar or journal. They are procured through prayer and discipline.

A good place to begin? David’s prayer in Psalm 51: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10, 12).

Allow me to personalize it a bit.

Create in me a pure heart, O God (just as you created a perfect universe from chaos).

And renew a steadfast spirit within me (that my greatest desire might be to please you).

Restore to me the joy of your salvation (just as we experience in the euphoria of Christmas Eve)!

Grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (throughout 2016).

The typical new year’s resolution is made, broken, and forgotten. Rarely does someone make a once-a-year promise and keep it faithfully for the next 364 days.

Perhaps we’d be wise to see each new day as a fresh opportunity for beginning anew. To repent of yesterday’s failures and forget them. To strain toward what is ahead—with enthusiasm, expectation, and hope (Philippians 3:13).

And gradually those new abilities we aspire after will begin to flourish.

God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19a)!

* * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Father, for your mercy to forgive the past, and your grace to provide for the future. Thank you that each morning is a fresh start, and each new day holds hidden opportunities. With great anticipation I turn the page!

 

(photo credit:  www.news.health.com.)

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Two weeks ago Steve and I enjoyed a visit with friends we’ve known since college. Last week it was with two other couples we’ve also known for many years.  Shared memories include experiences at church, exceptional dinners at restaurants, excursions to other locales, watching each others’ children grow up, and more. Every time we get together, there’s much story-telling, teasing, laughter, and reminiscing.

One special delight of old friends is the “memory back-up” they offer.

  • “Who was the guy that…?
  • “Where were we when…?”
  • “What was the name of that restaurant where…?”

Have you experienced the flow of feel-good endorphins after such a reunion? Believe it or not, research has verified that our psyches benefit greatly from nostalgia.

New research from the University of Southampton shows that feeling nostalgic about the past increases optimism about the future.  The research examined the idea that nostalgia is not simply a past-orientated emotion, but its influence extends into the future, with a positive outlook.” (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2013/nov/13_202.shtml )

Might that positive outlook grow even stronger if God is included in the remembering?  After all, he’s the one responsible for everything good that happens (James 1:17). He certainly deserves our gratitude for delightful memories.  Each one is a manifestation of his loving care and provision.

With the remembering, we can give God praise: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

 

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And with the remembering, we can strengthen our faith for the future.

On the other hand, all of us have unpleasant memories, too.  Difficulty, hurt, and failure are part of the human experience.  But even in contemplating those times, we can augment a positive outlook as the psalmists did (long before any research validated their strategy).  They often reaffirmed how God had ministered to them in the midst of trials:

  • He did not forsake those who sought him (Psalm 9:10).
  • He encouraged and listened to their cries (10:17).
  • He delivered them from all their fears (34:4).
  • He offered refuge (61:3).
  • He helped and comforted (86:17).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Lord, as I think about my life journey or read my blessings journal, I see your faithfulness displayed again and again.  Thank you for the gift of nostalgic remembering, which expands our joy, encourages our spirits, and grows our faith.

 

(Photo credits:  http://visualphotos.com ; http://www.anextraordinaryday.net.)

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