I’m an eternal optimist. I always look for the good behind the seemingly bad thing that's happening. Optimists are people who look for opportunities behind every calamity. Pessimists are people who look for calamities behind every opportunity. That's why I am very sure that it was an optimist who invented the airplane; while it was a pessimist who invented the seat belt.
One lady says, “In the mornings, I'm apt to be sleepy and grouchy. My husband is just the opposite. He springs out of bed, sings in the shower and babbles to me over breakfast. Once, exasperated, I exclaimed, “How CAN you be so happy?!”
He replied brightly, “Because, so far, nothing's gone wrong with my day.”
I guess I'm like that too. When I wake up in the morning, I choose to be optimistic. I know that, even if I’m wrong, I'd have a better time committing the mistake than if I were pessimistic from the get go.
One thing I've realized is that there is something better than plain optimism. Do you know what it is? It’s called “Faith.”
The World Depends on Faith
Famous author Howard Hendricks, in his book Faith in Tough Times, says “I didn't observe any of you come into this room and examine your chair before you sat in it. You just automatically committed yourself by faith to the chair, assuming it would hold you. Most of you got here by car; you slid in the car and turned on the ignition and away you go. You don't have a clue as to what goes on behind the scene. You can't explain the process. You just trust it.”
“The last time you went to a doctor, he wrote out a little prescription. You couldn't read it. In fact, you wondered if anybody could read the thing! Then you took it to your pharmacist, and you gave it to him. Have you ever discovered when you give a pharmacist a prescription, he always disappears behind the screen? That shakes me up. I often wonder what in the world the guy is doing back there. I wonder if he slept through his course in pharmacy school. But he gives you the little bottle and says, 'Take it three times a day'—and, by faith, you do exactly what he tells you to do! Faith is woven into the system.”
When I wake up in the morning, I can be optimistic because my optimism is built on faith. Faith that God has made this new day a brand new opportunity to be productive. Faith in His promise that men might mean it for harm, but God would mean it for good. Faith in my understanding that all things work out for the good to those who love God and are called to serve Him.
That's why, for people who do not have faith, optimism is sheer wishful thinking.
Robert C. Shannon says it best. “They have a saying in Vienna, Austria: The situation is hopeless, but not serious. It's an interesting contradiction in terms. Yet life is truly a mixture of optimism and pessimism, of hope and despair, of sunshine and shadow. Sometimes the same situation can have both elements in it at the same time! But faith is finer than optimism. It has none of the distortions of optimism. It is more lasting; less fragile. It's fine for us to be optimistic, but far better to be believers.”
So, you want to be optimistic? Build up your faith first.
Print ed: 10/09