True Optimism in Christ

Bob RoaneCounseling, Joy and Peace, Loving and Trusting God

God says: I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel….Christ’s reign (His kingly rule) will and must continue until every enemy has been conquered….And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Genesis 3:15; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Romans 8:28)

God, the Master Chef

Dr. Tony Evans praised his late wife Lois, calling her “The Leftover Queen.” Lois made first-rate Sunday dinners with a big roast, potatoes, green beans, freshly baked bread, and more. After the meal, Lois put the leftovers in Tupperware and saved them in the fridge. On Monday, she would slice, dice, chop, and mince the leftovers. Lois would sprinkle on cheese, give it a French name, and set out another surprisingly delectable meal for her family to enjoy. The “leftovers” were transformed into a new creation in the hands of a master cook.

God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the Master Chef who makes things new at Jesus’ first coming, every day in between, and finally and perfectly when Christ comes again. Tony Evans says that when the Lord gives us what seem to be leftovers, He is truly giving us something very good. Out of difficult things, He brings us delight. Out of pains, God brings spiritual progress. He turns our mourning into dancing, our sadness into joy.1 God gives us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, praises instead of despair.2

The Lord is always working in ways that leave us amazed at the outcomes. That’s what I mean by Christian optimism. The Psalmist prays, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”3

This builds on our previous post. You can read Optimism in Jesus. Here are more reasons for Christ-based hope from Scripture. Some of my comments build on the teaching of Tony Evans.

We Have Hope Because God (Father and Son) Sends the Holy Spirit to Dwell in Us

Scriptures: The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and He will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid….When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about me….Your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (John 14:26-27, 15:26; 1 Cor 6:19-20)

Comments: Jesus sends the Spirit to come alongside and help His followers, to counsel and comfort us, to encourage and assist us, to lead us in God’s paths of righteousness. The Holy Spirit will always be there for us and in us. We can depend on Him to guide, instruct, and give us courage every day to walk in Jesus’ ways. So we pray: Lord, fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.4 God wants our lives to be marked by expectancy, cheerfulness, and calmness in Christ. As we grow in God’s grace, He wants us to experience more and more of these blessings and pass on the blessings to others.

We Have Hope Because God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) Has a Great Plan for Our Life

Scriptures: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future….In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father….For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago….Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare….The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.(Jer 29:11; Matt 5:16; Eph 2:10; Psalm 40:5, 138:5)

Comments: God created us on purpose for His purpose! The Lord blessed Old Testament Israel and He promises to bless Jesus’ followers even more. God’s purpose from all eternity is to prepare His family to indwell His kingdom. The Lord mentions “plans” three times in Jeremiah to remind us that He is plotting for our good. Even with all our setbacks and stumblings, God is ordaining His very best for our future. Whether we realize it our not, every event of every day is moving us forward to God and our eternal destiny in Jesus. Missionary William Carey reminds us, “Our future is as bright as God’s promises.” Since that is so, let us shine for Christ until He comes to take us home.

God has wonderful plans for His family of believers (His Church) and for each of us individually. In Jeremiah, He mentions “plans” three times to remind us that the Lord is plotting for our good. He plans for our holiness, joy, peace, and eternal security with Him. No one or nothing can frustrate His agenda, even when it seems to. We don’t know how or when God will work it out, but we know that He makes all things beautiful in His time. Our plans can fail, but we hope in the Lord because His good plans can’t be stopped or spoiled.

Cheer up, Christian! Things are not left to chance: no blind fate rules the world. God’s purposes are fulfilled. God’s wise plans can never be dislocated. (Pastor Charles Spurgeon)

G. K. Chesterton

Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was an English writer and Christian apologist. Before his conversion, he was a pagan, an agnostic, and dabbled with the occult. While in college, he suffered from spiritual darkness and depression. Humanistic optimism (apart from God) was senseless to him and the Christian message became more and more reasonable as he studied it.

Chesterton met and later married Frances Blogg (1869–1938), an author. He admired her faith and how she lived it out by trusting and obeying the Bible, teaching Sunday school, and taking care of the sick and elderly. Chesterton said that Frances was the first person he’d ever known whose faith in Jesus was woven into every aspect of her life. She lead him to Christ as the Liberator of his soul.5

Chesterton said: Hope in Christ means hoping when things are hopeless….Hope shows its strength when everything is hopeless….Hope in Jesus is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know are desperate. This is true optimism in Christ.

If you devote your heart to God and stretch out your hands to Him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand, you will be secure, because there is hope. You will look about you and take your rest in safety. (Job 11:13-18)

To be continued. You can read The Best Optimism

Notes (various translations): 1 Psalm 31:11.     2 Isaiah 61:3.     3 Psalm 25:5.     4 Rom 15:13.     5 I learned some of this story from Marc Baer.