image source: No Mas
2011 has been one of the best years of my life. Our five children have each achieved remarkable accomplishments. My husband has finally moved on from a job of incredible pressures. We've received new material blessings that are enriching our lives. The Lord has proven His faithfulness and love for me in innumerable ways, and I love Him more than ever.
2011 has also been one of the worst years of my life, personally, emotionally, and physically. Amid numerous trials, I've been forced to learn the problem with optimism.
optimism : noun 1 hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something. 2 [Philosophy] the doctrine that this world is the best of all possible worlds.
The first part of that definition lines up perfectly with the way Scripture paints hope:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
~ Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
"For I know the purposes which I am weaving for you," says YHWH, "purposes of peace, and not for evil—to give you a future and a hope."
~ Jeremiah 29:11 (author)
But optimism tends to go beyond the first definition—beyond the hope provided by faith. Optimism wants to go on to define success in terms which are clearly seen, and seen sooner rather than later. While optimism doesn't deny God's promise that the next world will be the far better one, it nonetheless expects life in this world to come close.
God operates on a timetable that defies any schedule. He specializes not in successes the world recognizes, but of the unseen, in realms of the human heart. The effects of His work cannot be hidden, and will bear testimony of His presence at some point. Yet like the tip of an iceberg, what is seen is but a hint of what lies beneath the surface.
If optimism goes far enough to become presumptuous about either the goal of God's work, the method of God's work, or which person achieves God's work (Him or me), optimism may encounter that iceberg with a horrific crash.
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV)
Though the French roots of 'optimism' stem from the Latin 'optimum,' the two should never be confused.
optimum : adjective most likely to lead to a favorable outcome. : noun the most favorable conditions for growth, reproduction, or success.
The Lord creates optimum conditions for His goals to be achieved, His methods to be successful, and His glory to be seen. The Bible describes God's "optimum conditions" with words like:
I think maybe optimism can be a presumptuous and worldly substitute for true faith in the unseen and true hope in God's sure promises. Maybe. I'm not sure yet.
What I do know is that my lifelong optimism has been shaken to its core, while my hope is strong and my faith is undiminished.
And faith tells me that it may be a good thing to let go of optimism and simply stick with hope.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
~ John 16:33 (NKJV)
Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – buildingHisbody [plus] @gmail.com
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.