She was a shut-in, and he was an unemployed middle-age man who farmed part-time and hunted and fished the remainder. What they shared was a caustic case of pessimism.
Mary* and John* were members of a church I pastored. She was the mom and a shut-in, and he was the son. Since I visited shut-ins regularly, I was in their home monthly. They were sweet people but extremely negative. My upbeat moods were squashed quickly after a brief visit. I found myself dreading the stop because I knew I’d have to muster an extra dose of optimism to survive.
Jesus’ followers occasionally wondered why they couldn’t do the works he did, but he encouraged them: I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father (John 14:12 NLT).
Pessimistic outlooks are affected by personality, self-image, and childhood experiences. Type A personalities tend to be more optimistic than Type B. They’re in control, and the sky is the limit. On the other hand, people with poor self concepts trend toward pessimism. Self-image is partially formed by childhood messages. Negative messages from parents and significant others such as “You’ll never amount to anything” or “You were a mistake” can easily lead to a cynical outlook in adulthood.
But poor self-images can be turned into optimistic outlooks by remembering we’re God’s creations, and he doesn’t make mistakes. The presence and power of his Spirit in our lives will empower us for any life assignment he bequeaths. God’s presence also ensures success, but the success is by his definition, not ours or society’s.
Take a chance on optimism, and say with Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
Prayer: Thank You Almighty God that with Your power we can expect the best for that is what You always deliver. Help us grab it with gusto.
*Names changed to protect individuals identity.
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