I've been struck lately with how negative I can be, even about God and spiritual matters. I've been doing this study called Me, Myself & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild. It is about what we talk to ourselves about - what exactly your thought closet is filled with whether that is negativity or worry or God's truth.
Today in the service, our Pastor preached on Psalms 1. The title of his sermon was "Are You Happy?" I thought that was a bit odd because, quite frankly, as Oswald Chambers says, I think God is more concerned about our character than our happiness. But as our Pastor went through the verses - the things we need to avoid that are listed in verse 1 and went on to verse two about what we are to do instead which is delighting and meditating on God's Word, I realized something. I had become a spiritual pessimist.
What do I mean by that? I mean, I sort of expected things to go badly. I expected the hard and difficult and ugly. Maybe it is the national news or maybe it is because five women (several who are not that much older than I am!) have been diagnosed with cancer in the past year. I'm not sure, but I had become one of those Christians who instead of having joy, had the "when is the next shoe going to drop" syndrome.
Psalms 27:13 says "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Without hope and joy, we despair. We wither up and become Christians that are dry. We certainly don't draw anyone to Christ. I mean, who wants to be a dried up, pruney pessimist. No thanks!
Please don't get me wrong. I know there are hard things in life. You might get diagnosed with cancer or suffer the loss of a loved one or the end of a marriage or lose your job. Those are hard things and Jesus never said take up your bed of roses and skip after me with lollipops. I don't think positive thinking keeps the hardships of life from not happening, neither am I suggesting that you live in a state of denial of the realities of life.
However, the Bible also tells us that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Do I wake up in the morning expecting to see the goodness of the Lord or do I expect bad news or a disappointment? Do I have joy in the many blessings He gives me or do I only see the negatives and what could go wrong? Am I the type of Christian who is suspicious of the joy in others because I think it is more spiritual somehow to be miserable?
In Nehemiah, it says the joy of the Lord is our strength. I think this is what it means - when we look for the goodness of the Lord in this life, our focus is up, not down on the rocks in our path or inward at the issues in our souls. We see the answer, not the problem all the time. I don't know about you but I think I'm going to throw away that bin in my thought closet that contains all the pessimistic might be's and replace it with the joyful expectation of God's goodness box.