One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how many genuinely pessimistic people there are in the world (and in the church). But when it comes to pessimism verses optimism, the Bible is pretty clear. If we believe in God, and if we believe the Bible, we have to be optimistic about the future because, regardless of what might happen today or tomorrow, ultimately, we have the promise that everything will eventually work out for our good and for God’s glory. Isn’t that exactly what Paul is telling us in Romans 8:28? And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV) And this isn’t the only time Paul revealed the heart of an optimist. When Paul wrote the New Testament book of Philippians from a Roman jail he chose to focus on the positive things that were happening even though he himself was a prisoner. In other words, he chose to be an optimist.
Just consider the following: Philippians 1:12, Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. (NIV) Philippians 1:14, Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (NIV) Philippians 1:19, For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. (NIV) Philippians 1:21, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (NIV) Paul could have spent his time in jail feeling sorry for himself…who could blame him. He could have embraced a negative “woe is me…there’s no hope for tomorrow” attitude. But that’s not what he did. Instead, he focused on the good things that were happening in spite of his circumstance because he was convinced that God is good.
Sadly, pessimism comes naturally to most people. Because of that, we need to make the decision each and every day to choose optimism. If Paul could be an optimist in a Roman jail, then why can’t you and I choose optimism in our daily lives? Don’t let the negative things that are happening today, no matter how big or how small, keep you from believing the best about tomorrow. Larry Elder once wrote, “Optimism, it’s not just a mind-set, it’s a behavior.” Let’s all decide that we will behave, each and every day…regardless of our immediate circumstance like we serve a God who works all things for our good and His glory.