“Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” ― Jack Layton
I am a quintessential onlooker. Over the years I have gained much understanding by simple observations. Lately, I have noticed a great increase in pessimism. Some people have become much inclined to expect the worst possible outcomes, believing that somehow the bad will always overshadow the good in life. So let me ask you a question. Are you an optimist, pessimist, or a realist?
The way I see it, an optimist views the glass as half full, while a pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The realists? They don’t give a dead rat about how much is in the glass because either way, they still intend to drink what’s there. I once read that it was an optimist who invented the hot air balloon, but it was a pessimist who invented the parachute. My guess is that it was a realist who came up with flight insurance.
Whether you’re an optimist, pessimist, realist, or even a bit of them all, perhaps we can agree on this: It’s hard to maintain a positive outlook when we live in such a negative world.
News of doom, gloom, desolation, disease and death is served up piping hot 24-7 by our modern-day soothsayers (sometimes collectively known as the media). Consume that fodder long enough and you may become a manic-depressive. I say, enough already!
Recently a good friend reminded me that in spite of all the darkness and desperation here on spaceship earth, this is still a world filled with much beauty and wonder. He’s right you know. This earth is chock-full of amazing things that we can all enjoy with gladness of heart, even when our glass is empty.
There is no denying that it is often difficult to escape the mountain of sorrows which are so part and parcel of the human experience. But, as a spiritual man who believes in a Divine order, I choose to shine the light of faith, hope, and love into the black abyss of human sadness and suffering. I resonate with the words of the ancient Psalmist, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix your eyes on God…” (Psalm 42:5a MSG)
“Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism, nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right. It is an optimism that leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s call.” ― Josemaria Escriva
Over a century ago, the luxury steamship RMS Titanic met a calamitous end in the North Atlantic after sideswiping an iceberg. The collision slashed a 300-foot gash far below the ship’s waterline, and from that moment forward the good ship Titanic was doomed. No amount of human intervention could have altered that outcome. Upon assessing the damage, the crew of the Titanic abandoned all hope of making repairs in an effort to save the sinking ship. The focus instead turned to saving as many lives as possible. The mighty Titanic, once arrogantly declared unsinkable, would now plunge two miles to the bottom of the dark cold depths of the briny deep. With an estimated 2,208 passengers and crew on board, roughly 1496 people perished in the disaster. Only 712 people were saved. How were their lives spared? They were rescued.
Why am I sharing this old story with you? Because of this correlation: we too are all passengers on a marvelous ship floating upon a celestial sea. Like the Titanic, spaceship earth is also doomed. The fate of this planet was foretold long ago. In fact, the final moments of earth’s history is described in many ancient texts including this vivid passage from the Bible:
10 The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. 11 Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. 12 You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon. On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire, and everything else will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:10-12 CEV)
Talk about a massive case of global warming. Our ancestors were shown prophetic visions of a future earth going out in a blaze! Rather than trying to inspire us to change the inevitable, they actually encourage us to look forward to the coming of that day! They understood that the fate of this planet was forged in a distant past and mankind can do nothing to change the final outcome. Like it or not, the earth is going to get warm alright – really warm. As detailed in the Bible’s Older Testament, the days of the human race, and the planet we call home, will end in a cosmic meltdown.
Knowing this should not depress men and women of faith. Au contraire, these are exciting days in which we live. There is plenty for us to do. It’s time to man the lifeboats! Remember what the liberator Jesus said,
15 “You (who trust in my message and mission) are to go into the entire world and tell this Good News to everyone, everywhere. 16 Those who believe… will be saved. But those who refuse to believe will be lost.” (Mark 16:15-16)
Going into the entire world and telling the Good News to everyone is called the great commission. Answer that call and your assignment is to help facilitate the rescue of as many people as the Almighty has chosen to redeem. Listen to the words of the Newer Testament writer Peter once again,
38 “Be sorry for your sins and turn from them and be baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus Christ, and your sins will be forgiven. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you and your children. It is to all people everywhere. It is to as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39 – NLV)
I have found great comfort in my faith. In spite of life’s trials and tribulations, I know how all of the turmoil and depravity will one day come to an end. My future is secured. I have escaped from the moral and spiritual toxicities of this present world order through my trust in the promises made to me by the Creator. This freedom allows me to really enjoy my life.
“The spirit of the gospel message is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience.” ― Orson F. Whitney
Sure, I have bad days. We all have our ups and downs. I have cried many tears, and even questioned God’s wisdom a time or two (imagine that). But through it all I am learning to look beyond life’s momentary difficulties by pressing on toward a higher calling. The Newer Testament writer Paul said,
15-18 “The little troubles we suffer now for a short time are making us ready for the great things God is going to give us forever. 18 We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen (yet). The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen (yet) will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLV)
Today, I am happy. Tomorrow, who knows? Every day – happy or sad – I am filled with an inner joy, and that joyfulness is my strength. The Biblical Prophet Nehemiah once wrote,
10“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Happiness is just a feeling (emotion). Joy is the spiritual force that imbues us with strength, and gives us the ability to see beyond this present doom & gloom. We may not know what the immediate future holds, but we do know the one who does. So rise up! Take a deep breath and go redeem every moment of the rest of your life! Let the negative world see a positive you!
Almighty Creator, before there was time, before the particles of matter were arranged to form the heavens and coalesce into the stars and the planets – there was you. We humans know so little. There is nothing you do not know. That is why I have placed my absolute trust in you. I pray that my friends will also find the joy and freedom that comes from trusting in the Liberator, sent here to seek out and save that which had been lost. I thank you for watching over us today. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie.®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656 © 2019, all rights reserved. ®