I must admit, I am not a natural born optimist; I am a realist (what some may refer to as “pessimist”). So when Julian from GetConnectDad.com asked me to write an article about optimism, I almost balked.** After all, what do I have to say about optimism?
Well, after some more thought, I decided that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to come up with something (there’s my optimism kicking in). After mulling it over for a while, I had a thought: I believe most people (including yours truly) have a problem with optimism because we put faith in fallible, worldly things. People disappoint, things break down, governments fail, etc.
So, you ask, how else am I supposed to look at optimism? By definition optimism is “the tendency to expect the best possible outcome or to dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation”. Therefore, if we continually put our trust and hope in fallible things, then we will continually be disappointed and thus lack optimism. So let’s take a look at what the Bible says about optimism.
If we were to take a look at the biblical definition of optimism, we would call optimism “hope”, which is the result of faith in God’s character.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Optimism = Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” Romans 8:24
Put another way, God made us to live in hope; we have hope that God has that perfect plan for us and that He has it all under control. From an earthly perspective this gets skewed because we don’t, and can’t, fully know what God has planned for us in this life, so we worry, fret and despair. We focus on what we see and what we experience. But when focus on God, trust Him and cast our cares on Him, the optimism can kick in.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
Now let’s circle back around to the definition of optimism: “the tendency to expect the best possible outcome or to dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation”. I can expect the best possible outcome because I cast my cares upon God and understand that He is in control. I dwell on God’s perfect plan and the ultimate outcome for His people, and that gives me hope.
So, in retrospect, I need to modify the first paragraph of this article. Since I am created to have hope in God, I AM a natural born optimist, which seems like it’s the same thing as being a realist…huh, interesting. Pessimism is NOT natural. So if I take the Godly view and not the earthly view I have hope in God, and thus optimism.
Can I teach my daughter to be an optimist? With God’s help, I can. I can teach her to put more value on things of God than of things of the world. There is always hope in things of God.
** I am very glad I wrote this article and I’m thankful to Julian from GetConnectDad.com for asking me to write it. The process of writing this piece made me think about what optimism really is and has caused me to evaluate what I put my hope in on a daily basis. I have always considered myself somewhat of a pessimist, but my thinking has made an 180-degree turn as I read through the Bible looking for verses on optimism and hope.