THE WALK OF OPTIMISM
Walking in OPTIMISM – is living with the attitude that everything will work together for the good and that the best is still ahead! Is that the way you really feel? Well, I must admit that some days that is NOT how I feel. And, why is that? Because I see the world growing darker and colder and I am convinced that most people do not consider God in their life. I also believe that the economy is on the edge of collapse and that violence and suffering will become a horrible reality. How can we who are Christians, not accept the fact of future tribulation and the New World Order of anti-christ? Living with these thoughts it is difficult to imagine that our best years of happiness and peace are ahead of us. Ah, that is the problem! I am only seeing the future as time on earth. We must separate our temporary “feelings” from our eternal reality but how can we do that? It is simple; we pray that God will help us develop our mental “filter” that will divide the fleshly from the spiritual. Only then can we keep everything in perspective. We must not live in a pity-party of emotional worry and distress because we have been called to live “above” the darkness. We are the light holders of God’s presence and with Him, nothing is impossible! There is much work to do and Father is calling us to do it – yes, even in the midst of a calloused, barbaric and violent world.
We can (and must) clearly discern the condition and reality of this temporal realm and react with the wisdom and maturity of someone who knows God and His Word. Much of the information that we absorb in our brain comes from events that happen around us. These “happenings” demand a response from our conscience and the results are the finished product of emotions. Those who walk heavily in the temporal realm are tossed “to and fro” because they are so tightly connected to reacting in their flesh. Those who have disciplined themselves to walk closer to God are not carried away so easily. This might have been easier when people lived at a much slower pace and were not bombarded with instant media. However, in this age of the information super-highway, we are choosing to process a great deal of “happenings” and unfortunately, most of it is negative. What is all this doing to our mind? I believe it is bringing darkness to our soul. I am thinking of the difference between being happy because you are not worried about anything, and being sad because you realize you are going to have to deal with some difficult situations. Now what does that remind you of? That’s right, a little child. When we were children, we were happy because we thought there was nothing to worry about. Everything seemed fine because in our world of knowledge, all was at peace and taken care of. We did not know how much money our parents had and had no clue if the bills were paid. How would we know if someone was ill or the price of tea in China, if someone did not tell us? The most important thing we knew was that we felt secure snuggled on the couch with the people we loved and who loved us. The older we grow the more the know, and the more worries we accumulate. “And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, verily I say unto you, except you become CONVERTED, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 18:2-3)
Bearing one another’s burdens is a result of agape love but it is not the same as worrying about the price of gas. This is why it is crucial for us to understand how to allow the negative information to run off like the rain on the roof. I am not saying that negative knowledge is not important but it is one thing to PRAY for a situation and let it go, and another to embrace it and carry it around like an iron weight. Selah. Most of us have become “heavy” filing cabinets of information that not only we CANNOT change – but has caused us great STRESS. This heaviness is mentioned specifically in Isaiah 61:3 as a “spirit” that can alter our personality and change us into a pessimist. “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, THE GARMENT OF PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” You remember that Jesus read part of this scripture in the fourth chapter of Luke, and is describing His mission as well as those who follow Him. So, if our attitude is to be seen as a garment, we can learn a few things about how to make this a reality. First, let us see that being optimistic is associated with being thankful. This scripture said “praising God” would eliminate the dark, depressing feelings of sadness and discouragement. Praising Him is the result of TRUSTING Him. The reason why so many people live in fear is that they have not and ARE not convinced that God has everything under control. We notice the next verse in Mathew 18 mentions humility, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same shall be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” There is a secret to praising God – it is bowing your knee and lowering yourself before Him without pride. I believe that along with being “heavy” with depression is the presence of resentment, anger and pride. Many believe their life is the way it is because God has not helped them. They walk in the dark clouds of negativity and pity themselves because of their circumstances. Unless they repent from their anger toward God and receive a clean conscience, they will not be able to praise Him and thank Him for His goodness. Moreover, without putting on the garment of praise they will continue to be oppressed by the spirit of heaviness.
The next practical thought about the garment of praise is that we cannot sew pieces of praise to our coat of anxiety. In other words we cannot dabble in being happy in God some of the time or be partially clothed in optimism. The garment of praise is not something that magically appears on us but rather it is the determined, INTENTIONAL” act of learning about it and putting it on! It is something WE must do out of faith and obedience to God. The problem today is that too many Christians are trying to “partially” live their faith. They are trying to cram their brains with the world while not recognizing they have no room left for Jesus in their heart. We cannot absorb the negativity of the world and expect to be a bright shining star of optimism. In Mark 2:21, we see the idea that one cannot be halfway sold out or half-hearted in wearing their garment of spiritual convictions. True spirituality is more than head knowledge of facts but rather a commitment and dedication to love and serve Christ completely. “And no man also sews a piece of new (material that has not been shrunk) cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that patched it up takes away from the old, and the tear is made worse.” When we try to put on a fake smile while freaking out on the inside, we do not really believe with our whole heart. True optimism must be more than just a “memorized” motivational speech. We need to KNOW that what we are exhibiting is the truth that we would not only live for – but also die for! There is no place for “fake” charisma or manufactured inspiration on the front lines of battle. It is simply a spiritual revelation of faith and trust.
Perhaps during times of affliction you have almost fainted. You may have been so weak and weary you thought you couldn’t go another step. But now, from where you stand, you can say, “I never want to go through that again but thank God, He brought me out. He has been faithful. Praise the Lord! Father does appreciate us being thankful but actually, He is seeking from us a much deeper realization. He is saying – “I did not bring you through all those troubles and afflictions just to make you a grateful overcomer. I’ve spent years training you, putting you through all these things for a purpose, and I’m not going to let you waste them now. I fully intend for my investment (AND your investment) to pay off and I am trying to reveal to you that your best work is ahead of you!” You see as we develop within our deeper-level afflictions, God opens our eyes to those struggling divine appointments all around us who are still in kindergarten. These beloved ones are confused and discouraged, so what do you do with your affliction experiences? God whispers to you, “I need seasoned, tested veterans, people who have survived deep waters and awful fires, who have been refined through suffering. I want people who have learned to stand and will prove MY faithfulness to this generation. I need disciples who can DEMONSTRATE the power of MY grace and love!” “That ye may tell it to the generation following” “Now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, forsake me not; until I have demonstrated thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come.” (Psalm 71:18). Listen to Paul in Philippians 1:12-14), “But I would ye should understand, brothers, that the things which happened unto me have actually turned around out unto God’s glory for the furtherance of the gospel. So that my bonds for Christ are clearly seen in Caesars court and to all that have heard about it. And, many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more BOLD to speak God’s Word without fear.” That is saying something! When Paul wrote this, he was an older man with years of experience and he was in the midst of one of the worst trials of his life. He was speaking from his heart that it would be the most wonderful thing right now if he could go home and be with his Lord. However, he was trying to teach them with his example. He said, I am a veteran, and I’ve been through severe afflictions and trials – but I know I’m needed here. This generation needs to see a sufferer who survives and rejoices with TRUE FAITH in any affliction. Therefore, it is best that I stay and endure these trials and afflictions with SPIRITUAL OPTIMISM! He had genuine hope! He was not down or depressed but rather said, I rejoice in the Lord for all He has brought me through! Is this not the attitude that we also must have in these last days? How can we “stand” as overcomers if we forget that Jesus has ALREADY WON the VICTORY? Trusting Him brings the joy of peace!