Saturday, November 19, 2011

Optimist or Pessimist?

by Tim Howard

When you examine your life would you view yourself as an optimist or a pessimist? I was asked this question recently and my response was simply: “Neither; I consider myself to be a realist.”

A pessimist has a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believes the worst will happen. The ones who also hold to a fatalistic view of life often convey a very negative outlook of the future.

An optimist has a tendency to view life with hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something, even though the present reality might convey something very different.  

A realistic adopts an attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and prepares to deal with it accordingly. They seek to see things, or situations accurately or in a way that is true to life.

The reality is this: Life is full of positive and negative things. When you marry someone, you will experience a combination of good and bad. Marriage is a commitment for better or for worse. You will have ups and downs. You will have highs and lows. You will experience times of confidence and times of confusion.

What’s true in marriage is also true for those who follow Jesus Christ. No amount of faith will make your life into a path without problems. There are hundreds of promises in the Bible, but between the person and the promise there will always be a problem. When Jesus spoke to the disciples in Matthew 16, He told them they would experience some struggles, opposition, obstacles and challenges. He used the metaphor ‘gates of hell’ to illustrate this truth.

When you set out on the Christian journey, the Apostle Peter said: ”…do not be surprised at the painful trial you may suffer, as though something strange were happening to you.” It happens to everyone who pursues Christ with his or her whole heart. They will encounter ‘gates’ created to block their entrance into God’s promises. That’s pretty pessimistic isn’t it?

Well here’s the optimistic side!  Jesus continues in Matthew 16 and declares: Even though you will have trouble in the world, I have given you the Keys to the Kingdom of heaven. No ‘gate from hell’ can keep you from experiencing the promises of God if you use these keys to access heaven.

Keys give a person access. When we purchased our last automobile back in 2004, the dealership gave us a key that granted us access to that vehicle. Whoever has the key has access.

No one knows exactly what the keys actually refer to in this metaphor but we do confidently know they represent three levels of privilege. 1. Authority 2. Power 3. Confidence. To those who know Christ, follow Him with his or her whole heart and seek His assistance they have been given a position (authority) that carries clout (power) and releases confidence. A child belonging to God has access to heaven and confidently knows their Father will help.

Romans 8:28 says: “…we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Armed with these truths, you don’t have to pretend everything is wonderful nor do you have to embrace a belief that everything is terrible. Why? Because when you turn to Jesus, he takes the good, the bad and the ugly and makes it work out His purposes in you. That’s the realistic view. Get real!  

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