A Realistic Optimism

In Key West, Florida there is the crypt in which B. P. Roberts is interred and on which is a stone tablet inscribed with the telling epitaph, “I told you I was sick.” I know nothing else about B. P. Roberts, but that lone statement says a lot. He/she was probably like a few people that I have known who could only see the dark side of anything. I was reminded of a person who told me a number of years ago that “the doctor says I’m fine, but doctors don’t know everything!”

Very similar are the people who can only see what is wrong in society, in government, and in the church. They are often self-appointed heralds letting us know that the end is near and all hope is gone. They latch on to whatever they perceive as wrong and use those news items to prove that we are without hope. Of course, there are plenty of wrong things in our society and in our churches for them to focus our attention upon.

The pessimistic “nay-Sayers” are often balanced out by that other group of people who are optimistic about everything. You know the kind – they have a horrible day and just proclaim with a smile that they are glad everyday isn’t like this one. They refuse to deal with a problem because they refuse to acknowledge that problems even exist. They are the ones who cover up the “check engine” light on their dashboard and assure you that their car is running perfectly. They may also see their children heading for trouble but just shrug it off and say, “all kids go through this,” or “they will outgrow it.” instead of actually dealing with the issues. It’s impossible to get them to discuss problems in the church because they are sure that given a little time “everything will be OK.”

Both groups are dangerous! The first group will not work to improve things because they are sure that every cause is a lost cause. They expend great energy pointing out problems, but usually have little to offer in the way of solutions. They second group do great damage because they will not take any corrective action. They are so convinced that everything is fine that they refuse to even discuss the issues that exist. They are experts at ignoring the “elephant in the room.”

There is an encouraging word from our Lord that helps to bring those two things in balance. He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV) What a wonderful statement! We need to realize that we will have trouble in this world; in our country, in our families, and in our churches. It is part of living here. But we must also realize that there is a solution to every difficulty and that the solution is Jesus Christ! In Him we have all we need to deal with every issue that comes into our lives. Not some blind hope, but a realistic optimism. May we all be willing to look honestly at our problems and then seek the certain solutions that come from trusting and following the one who has overcome even sin and death.

In Him,
Pastor Nord