Friday, May 29, 2009

Half-Full – or Half-Empty?

Michael J. Fox’s TV special, “Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” intrigued me. Fox talked about his personal optimism despite battling Parkinson’s Disease, and explored possible roots of optimism.

Why are some people optimistic, he wondered, while others are pessimistic? Or putting it another way, why do some individuals see glasses as half-full, while others see them as half-empty? A friend of mine describes himself as a “optimistic pessimist”: “I’m positive things are going to get worse,” he explains.

In the documentary, Fox interviewed optimistic people, consulted with psychologists, even visited Buhtan, “the happiest country in the world.” He mentioned “faith,” but the faith he described basically believes “everything works out for the best,” or as some would phrase it, “It’s all good, man.”

I’m also optimistic, but my attitude has a more specific basis. It’s not confidence in myself, because I know how often I have failed others – including myself. I’m not confident in mankind, because everyday we hear about how wretched, mean and self-centered people can be – and I see no evidence things are getting better.

My optimism is grounded in unwavering faith in God and His perfect, sovereign plan for His creation, including me. When He declares, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11), I believe it.

And when He says, “do not fear, for I am with you, and do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10) that means despite a troubled economy, health challenges, or any of life’s many other terrors, He’s in control.

With promises like that filling the Bible, why not be optimistic?

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