Article Feb 1, 2017

Something better than optimism

If you’ve only met me a few times or are acquainted with me only through social media, you might come to the conclusion that I am the-glass-is-half-full kind of person. You know, eternally optimistic about life. It’s true that I’m not much of a cynic and I do tend towards seeing the best possible outcome in situations but it’s not because I’m optimistic. Actually, I don’t necessarily think that things working out in the best possible outcome means that there will be rainbows and sunshine as it happens. In other words, I’m more of a realist. I think that the best outcome could actually come by means of a struggle or even suffering. So, when I look at the current state of our world, I’m not optimistic, but I have hope.

Optimism is defined by one resource as a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome or the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.

Optimism isn’t rooted in absolute truth. Rather, it depends much on one’s thoughts and how they perceive the world. It also seems to rely much on one’s disposition. Biblical hope, however, is significantly different. Hope is rooted in what God’s Word says about himself and the world.

We can and should have hope because of the character of God. God is not reeling over our circumstances or the state of the world. God is not anxious. God does weep over unrighteousness and does not overlook sin (Ps. 5:4), but he has also made a way or repentance through his Son. Isaiah’s proclamation of the greatness of God helps realign our anxious hearts and gives us hope:

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?” (Isa. 40:12-14)

Behold, this is our God—the One who measures the waters in the hollow of his hand. When all things seem peculiar and confusing, remember that we serve a God who knows all things and acts out of his good and sovereign will. He isn’t receiving flawed counsel from our earthly leaders. He “brings princes to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (40:23). We can rest and have hope because there is no one like our God; God commands us to lift up our eyes on high and see the One who created all things (40: 25-26).

We also have hope because we do not serve a holy and awesome God who is far off. His words to his people in Isaiah 41:10 are the same for his people today: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” He is our God. If we believe that God is as great as his word says he is, we do not need to fear. We have hope. Optimism says we will likely have a God who will uphold us. In contrast, the hope found in God’s Scriptures promises us that we will have a God who will uphold us. Let us hope in God who doesn’t change. Hope in God who doesn’t lie. Hope in God who will never forsake us.

And finally in this short list that only scratches the surface of our hope, we have hope because of God’s beloved son, Jesus. Jesus is our ultimate hope. Jesus is the Hope! He has caused us to be “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 3-5). We have hope for today because, right now, Jesus reigns and is interceding for his own. He is not dead—he is our living hope! And through him we have hope for tomorrow. We will one day be with our King – not for just a moment – it will be forevermore. And as we wait for that day, we can be assured that our hope will not put us to shame (Rom. 5:5).

Optimism isn’t bad. If you are optimistic about the future, that is great. But I’m telling you that you can be more than optimistic, you can be sure. You can be sure that God is in control and all-powerful. You can be sure that God is sovereignly caring for the affairs of this world. You can be sure that Jesus is interceding for you if you have placed your trust and hope in his finished work on the cross. And you can be sure that he will return and will indeed make all things news. Hope in your God—that hope is sure.

This was originally published here.