Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
We are living in a time when people are pessimistic about the future. There have always been pessimists, but now there is a general feeling of hopelessness regarding the future.
Many people even look forward with a sense of dread. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that due to terrorism, chemical attacks and the threat of nuclear warfare, fear has engulfed our planet.
In 1931, Ralph Barton, one of America’s top cartoonists, left a note pinned to his pillow before taking his own life:
I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, and from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up twenty-four hours of the day.
He had nothing positive to fill his life. He committed suicide. In Macbeth we have the famous line: “Life… is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
A Pessimistic World
Pessimism is an attitude where people view life or events as negative. They see a glass not full as being half empty, not half full. If you believe you are a pessimist, you know that you have a tendency to expect bad things to happen to you, to see them as your fault, and to assume they will be long-lasting. You may be saying things to yourself like:
- I always mess up; I can never do anything right.
- My life is miserable, and it’s just getting worse.
- I will never be successful or competent.
A pessimistic person is someone who never sees good in anything. If the sun is shining, you’ll get a sun burn. If it’s raining, your feet will get wet and you’ll catch a cold. We can easily allow ourselves to be focused on the negative things of life. We live in a world today that all you have to do is pick up the newspaper, look at some news on the television, or listen to something on the radio, and it is a very negative world.
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It is a pessimistic world out there—and many do feel negative about their world. Self-criticism causes a downward spiral—it makes us feel down, then the negative statements resonate with our feelings. Once this spiral starts, we tend to dwell on the negative and become more pessimistic. Serious pessimism takes the joy out of life. We feel overwhelmed and discouraged, and expect bad things are surely going to happen. It seems there is a dark cloud hanging over our head all the time.
Jesus, the Cure to Pessimism
Do you know that against this pessimistic and fearful backdrop, Jesus Christ offers real hope. He gives everyone the opportunity to become right with God and his fellowman. Thus Christianity offers a full life to those who will accept Jesus: “I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest” (John 10:10).
And this abundant life never ends. There is a hope of life everlasting based upon the promises of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life. Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die” (John 11:25-26 – CEV). That’s a tremendous reason to be an optimist, not a pessimist.
What I’m saying is this. In a changing world, there exists an unchanging God whose world lasts forever. “The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8 – ESV), and God himself never changes, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. (John 11:26 – NLT)
No wonder the Apostle Paul could write these words just before his impending death:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6–8 – NASB).
Christianity offers the world a genuine hope. You may have a tendency to blame yourself when things go wrong. You need to encourage yourself and accept that while bad things do happen, things don’t always go badly, it is not always your fault, and things can get better. Practice giving yourself words of comfort.
God has a fabulous plan that includes you and me. And so he puts us in places and positions that we can’t even imagine today. Give God time and watch him move. Give God an opportunity to have his way with you. Don’t drop the curtain on tomorrow. God has a beautiful plan for your life and mine.
(To be continued in How to Overcome Pessimism- Part 2)