I’m not really sure how it happened.
Maybe it’s because I keep re-reading that crazy gratitude book.
Or maybe it’s because I’ve spent more time in the Psalms this year than any other book of the Bible.
Or maybe it’s because I finally got fed up with being fed up and did something about it.
Or maybe it’s a combination of these things, swirled together by the Lord in His perfect timing to finally begin producing a change in me that’s been a long time coming.
I hardly recognize myself.
I’m positive. As in optimistic. As in not cynical. As in I have hope.
And those of you who know me well know this is a radical change indeed.
I used to quip, “I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist.” And I always knew it was a cop out. What I really was was stuck in feelings of hopelessness, even after – well after – I became a Christian.
And I know I’m not alone. A lot of (most) Christians live in doubt and bitterness and anger and depression and cynicism.
But we don’t have to.
(It’s taken me YEARS to believe that to be a true statement, by the way – that we can choose to have hope. It can be a lot more complicated than it sounds, which is why it often feels impossible, but it’s not. And that’s another post for another day.)
Not only do we not have to live in hopelessness and cynicism, upon further reflection, I think, as believers, we mustn’t.
To not have hope – to adopt a cynical, hopeless perspective about ANYTHING – is to disbelieve the power of Christ.
As Christians we believe that Jesus bore the punishment we deserved for our sins on the cross, died and rose again. We believe God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, and the evidence of that acceptance is that Jesus was resurrected (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
If we are convinced the resurrection happened, we are also convinced of God’s total sovereignty (Psalm 103:19). After all, if He can make a dead man rise to life again, as impossible as that sounds, can’t He do anything (Jeremiah 32:27)?
Can’t He redeem any impossible situation we find ourselves in?
If we have hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we must have hope in ALL seemingly hopeless situations. There’s no room for cynicism and/or giving up and/or losing hope in anything or anyone if we believe in Christ.
THIS IS NOT NATURAL FOR ME! I can’t emphasize enough that I am NOT a naturally sunny person with a pleasant disposition. You will never catch me with a “Life is good” bumper sticker on my car. Hear me when I say I am not an optimist writing this pie-in-the-sky blog post. To hope when it seems illogical, to hope when it is uncomfortable, to hope against my natural will is just as difficult for me as it is for you.
It’s hard to not let people and circumstances affect our having unwavering hope in Jesus’ ability – His desire, and His ultimate plan – to rescue and redeem everything.
Here is one practical way I have found to do that. When you catch yourself having a cynical/hopeless/depressed/angry thought about anything, staunchly refuse it by asking God to take away that feeling and to replace it with hope in Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). And then make yourself find something to thank Him for in that moment (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
This is a simple exercise, but it’s very difficult. Don’t worry – you don’t have to do it perfectly. But you won’t begin to change unless you start. You will find, as I have, the more gratitude you offer, the more hopeful you will become. You’ll feel yourself begin to change. Others will notice a change in you. You’ll go from being a hostage of negativity to a hostage of hope. And I think that’s exactly what the Lord has in mind for us when we become believers (Romans 6:22).