“My friends, 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
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to most by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer whose stories and novels are famous for their humor, vivid details, and memorable characters. Clemens once said, “The man who is a pessimist before he turns 48 knows too much; but if he is an optimist after 48, then he knows too little.”
Question: are you an optimist, pessimist, or a realist? The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The realist? They don’t care about the glass; either way, they intend to drink the whole thing. 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 invented flight insurance.
Whether you’re an optimist, pessimist, realist, or even a bit of them all, maybe we can agree on this: It’s hard to maintain a positive outlook when we live in such a negative world. Doom, gloom, death and desolation are 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 one of the manic downhearted. I say, enough is 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.
Sure, the spiritual, social and personal depravity of humanity is often difficult to escape. 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 wickedness. I resonate with the words of the ancient Psalmist, “Why be discouraged and sad? Put your hope in God instead!” (Psalm 42:5a)
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King
Allow me to share a bit of history with you. 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 passage from the Bible:
8 “But don’t forget this, dear friends, a day or a thousand years from now is like tomorrow to the Lord. 9 He isn’t really being slow about his promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way. But he is waiting, for the good reason that he is not willing that any should perish, and he is giving more time for outlaws to repent. 10 The day of the Lord is surely coming though, as unexpectedly as a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the heavenly bodies will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be burned up. 11 So since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy and godly lives we should be living! 12 You should look forward to that day… the day when God will set the heavens on fire, and the heavenly bodies will melt and disappear in flames.” (2 Peter 3:8-12)
Talk about a massive case of global warming. Our prophetic ancestors were shown visions of the future world 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 texts of ancient scripture, the days of the human race, and the planet we call home, will end in a cosmic meltdown.
“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
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)
It’s called the great commission. Answer that call and your assignment is to help facilitate the rescue of as many as the Almighty has chosen to redeem before it is too late. 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)
Do you know why I am so glad to be a believer in the mission and the message of the Liberator Jesus? Okay, there isn’t a single answer to that question, but among the many reasons is this one: I know how all of the chaos 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.
Sure, I have bad days. We all have our ups and downs. I have cried many tears and had my share of gut wrenching sorrows. I have even questioned God’s wisdom a time or two (imagine that). But through it all I am learning to look beyond the momentary difficulties in life. 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 will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLV)
Today, I am happy. Tomorrow? Who knows? I don’t know what the immediate future holds, but I do know the one who does. Every day, be it happy or sad – I am filled with joy. Happiness is just a feeling (emotions). Joy is a spiritual force from within. It is that inner joy that gives me the strength to see beyond this present doom & gloom.
The world is indeed a very dark and dangerous place. But at this moment, sitting by the docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida, I have the privilege of writing these words to encourage you. I love the smells here by the shore, the cry of the gulls, the gentleness of the breeze, the smallness of the boats bobbing atop the tranquil waters.
Suddenly, I hear the simple words of an old Gospel chorus resounding in my heart:
“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”*
So again I say; enough is enough! Take a deep breath and go redeem every moment of the rest of your life! Negative world – 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 Redeemer, sent to earth by you 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. ®
* HOW GREAT THOU ART © 1949 and 1953 by the Stuart Hine Trust. All rights in the USA its territories and possessions, except print rights, administered by EMICMG Publishing. USA print rights administered by Hope Publishing Company. All other North, Central and South American rights administered by Manna Music Inc. Rest of the world rights administered by Kingsway Communications Ltd.