Optimism? All the Time?
Undaunted by fog and inclement weather, the captain of this sailing vessel has confidently hoisted his sails; his ship is underway despite minimal visibility and the hidden danger of unseen harbor islands, shoals, and lobster boats. Undoubtedly, the captain’s knowledge, skill, and experiences contribute to his optimism.
In today’s world, division, negativity, and depression frequently diminish our sense of optimism. However, Scripture has this great word— “hope.” It is a concept which echos throughout Biblical historical events as far back as man’s fall in Genesis. It is based on the character of God and conveys the idea that we can have a confident expectation for a good outcome.
Some champions of faith lived pressured but undaunted by circumstances. Joshua echoed Moses’ confidence as Israel faced hostilities in the land promised them: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) (Deuteronomy 31) Jeremiah proclaimed God’s goodness when God’s children faced trouble: ” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Nahum assured them that “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” (Nahum 1:7) And Hebrews 11 contains a compilation of both important and ordinary men and women who lived extraordinarily courageous, powerful lives of faith. There are patriarchs, judges, kings, prophets, notables and nonentities whose faith was costly but confident. They held to the promises of God even when logic failed and they faced difficulties, doubts, fear, distain, mockery and martyrdom.
Although fully aware of his own fate, Jesus encouraged and comforted the broken hearted and championed the oppressed. In spite of tragic suffering, he joyfully fulfilled God’s singular, burdensome, trial ridden course for him. Even while nailed and dying on a criminal’s cross and paying the agonizing, horrendous price for humanity’s sins, he not only promised Paradise to the criminal who was dying beside him and who had professed confidence in him but he also declared that the requirements for humanity’s redemption had been satisfied. It was finished. There would be no condemnation for those who would believe. Could there be a greater confidence than that? He had accomplished what he had promised Nicodemus: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Could there be a greater optimistic outlook for dying humanity than that? Eternal “hope”!
Abuse, poverty, lack of opportunity, suffering, grief, opposition, and impossibilities pull us inward. However, hope draws us away from ourselves and our problems and connects us with God. The Psalmist captured that concept: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.” (Psalm 42:5)
Hope is a supreme confidence in God’s character, in His love for us, in His redemption, and in His presence with us. No matter how dire the situation , no matter how far astray the wandering, no matter how evil the heart, God is present when we hurt, loves the troubled soul, willingly redeems the repentant heart, and transforms the mind.
Despite questions and uncertainties, we can hoist our sails with praise every morning and confidently cling to the “riggin’s” – to God’s principles, promises, and loving providence. “We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.” (Ps 33:20-22)