We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
The world is full of negativity. It only takes a moment to find something about which to complain. One glance through your newsfeed on Facebook will show you that the world is a terrible place, full of problems large and small. Negativity can be contagious as well. “Well, if so-and-so thinks that doing laundry is so terrible, my life must be awful!” or “Geesh, kids these days are so unappreciative. There’s no hope for this world.” I don’t mean to minimize suffering. True suffering does abound, and we are called to be sympathetic and empathetic to those in need. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you. Isaiah 43:2
The difference is that we, as a people of Faith, are called to a higher purpose. We are called to hope. We are not from this world any more than we are of this world. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. John 15:19 In the darkest situations, we are called to find hope, find God’s light. He is with us even then. When the situation isn’t our own, we are called to BE God’s light to the person or people affected in whatever way we can, be it praying, making a meal, child care. Thankfully, these dire, dark situations are not everyday situations for most people. Recently, it occurred to me that if we don’t practice hopefulness, we won’t be able to be hopeful when the time comes. If we get caught up in the “all is wrong” mentality, we will have trouble responding to our Christian call to be people of faith when bad things happen.
I took my three oldest children along with my youngest to an amusement park this summer. For the girls, it was their first experience at an amusement park and with ride or roller coasters. They started with all eagerness, going on the highest, fastest coaster in the park first. For one, it was “awesome;” for the other, it made her feel nauseous. As the day went on, they both found that while they somewhat liked roller coasters, they preferred the tamer rides built for younger children (or maybe children their age?). We weren’t there to force them to do something they didn’t want to do, and the park has enough variety that everyone was able to do what they wanted and have a good time. One daughter was upfront about roller coasters. She didn’t like how they made her feel and didn’t want to try them anymore that day. My other daughter got caught up in making excuses. These excuses started spiraling, carrying even into the next day when she was describing them to my husband. When he asked her what she liked, she explained how she didn’t like this roller coaster or that one instead of focusing on the great time she had had (and those of us with her KNOW she had a good time by the look of sheer fun and excitement she had all day long).
In this small way, she is programming herself to focus on the negative and not find the hope. It is insignificant in many ways. Not liking roller coasters is in no way going to affect her life path. However, focusing on not liking roller coasters may. By finding the bad in even the best situation, she is not living her calling to be a person of faith or hope. What will happen when something terrible, life-altering, does occur? Will she be able to find or even be God’s light in that situation? Maybe she will, but I believe it will be easier if she practices that in her daily life.
It is the age-old “glass is half-empty” scenario. If we are always “half-empty,” how can God help us? God is calling us to be “half-full” people. If we can meet Him at half-full, He will always fill us the rest of the way.
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint. Isaiah 40:31