For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No Business for a Pessimist

Yes. Sad, but true, I'm using a line from Scarecrow & Mrs. King for a writing prompt. You knew it was only a matter of time...;)

In the third season of SMK, Lee tells Amanda that the spy business is no business for a pessimist. I'd like to argue that neither is Christianity.

Let's just start at the most obvious point...When optimists see a problem, they know there's a solution and look for it, they work to solve the problem though it might take a long time. When pessimists see a problem, throw up their hands and say it's hopeless and walk away. Which is more the way Christ followers should be?

OK, so that was too easy. Let's try it from a biblical perspective.

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

Seems to rule out pessimism. If we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, how can we be pessimists? How will that show people Christ?

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

OK, why the doom and gloom if Christ died for us? Not exactly sure how pessimists view this. Oh, sure, Christ died for us, but what is He doing for us now? What difference does that make in the long run? Kind of disturbing when you think about it.

I will be honest. I was born an optimist. But that doesn't mean I don't understand how a pessimist thinks, I spent years thinking I was one. See, I was raised by pessimists. Everything was always doom and gloom, and "poor me, there's nothing can be done for my problems." And optimists, above all others, were despised and hated. To be accepted I had to become what they were. Such is the nature of being a child. But I'm not a child anymore. (I think that bothers some people, btw.)

The pessimist views the optimist as a worthless "pie in the sky" individual, so much so, they can't see that it's the optimist who is actually doing the work, while the pessimists sit around at Starbucks, or on Facebook, and complain about how things are and gripe about how they ought to be.

But, maybe it's just me. I think that Christianity is a faith of action. No, I didn't always think that way. Spent most of my life thinking Christians were the problem. I sat around at Starbucks and on Facebook, etc... I even lucked out and found a church that agreed with me. Yes, there are churches out there that believe that Christianity is the problem with the world, and if we Christians would just get out of the way and allow society to be secularized, all the problems of the world would somehow, though not miraculously, disappear. Seriously. Sounds pretty unbelievable, and it would be for me if I hadn't lived my life surrounded by people claiming to be Christians who thought this way.

John 8:12  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus didn't say "I am the light of the Christian world," or "I am the light of the Church." He is, of course, but He claims here to be the light of the world. The whole world. Those who follow Him will have the light, but they are not to keep it to themselves. I've already referenced Matthew 5, don't make me break out in song singing "hide it under a bushel..." ;)

But, back to the pessimists and the optimists...

Ps 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation

If God is our hope, where is the need for pessimism? I mean, this is God. He can do anything. He makes the earth rotate and spin around the sun. I'm pretty certain He can get us through our day-to-day problems.

Now, I'm not talking about "happy, happy, joy, joy" kind of Christianity that denies that there is pain in the world. Those kinds of Christians are not really optimists, they are in fact disguised pessimists. They put on a smile and pat the suffering on the head because they think there is no solution to any problem in the world, they just don't want to deal with it. That's pessimism at it's core, even if it wears a smile.

The true optimist knows life sucks in this world, but goes on with hope because they know they serve a great and loving God who has given the only solution to life's problems, the only hope for all our pain and suffering. And they know that, because God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, that even the bad stuff serves some type of purpose, if for nothing else that to strengthen us in our walk with Christ and make us better Christians. Oh, hey, I think that's biblical too.

Romans 5:3-5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

True optimist can give hope to others. When others are in distress the optimist knows there is no reason to fear for themselves because they have the hope of Christ, and He will strengthen them to serve. An optimist can "be there" for a suffering person in a way that a pessimist never will be. A pessimist will be at home, sleeping soundly & obliviously, or they will be at Starbucks complaining that you didn't handle things correctly and if they were in your shoes this is how they'd have done it.

Look, this entry is as much for me as for anyone else. After 37 years in a family that could do nothing but complain and tear down, and after 15 years in a church that backed that up, the mindset still encroaches, and at the worse possible times. Funny thing is, as soon as I turn back to scripture, it pretty much dissipates....real funny, doncha think? ;)

Visual aid:


  1. I'm a visual learner so love the visual aid. I always ask myself the question, Why are you cast down? when I find myself start to worry. I've had to use it this election day...I'm reminding myself that whoever is president isn't the end...because God is in control!

    1. He is indeed. And so grateful for that. :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)