How we view our circumstances drastically affects how we live. When it comes to perspective, we often think about optimism and pessimism and how each impacts our disposition, attitudes, and actions. But what does God’s Word say about optimism?
Dictionary.com defines optimism as: “the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.” This definition sounds a lot like John 1:5, which says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
On the cross, Jesus’ goodness defeated evil. This truth should affect how we view and enjoy our lives. Whenever pessimistic notions seep into our mindset, we can align our thoughts with God’s. Philippians 4:8 tells us exactly how to practice Biblical optimism:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—think on these things.”
Each of these attributes points directly back to God’s character. Focusing on His unchanging nature, we develop steadfast joy and contentment — an optimism unshaken by circumstance.
Society’s approach to an optimistic mindset can leave us exhausted. We simply cannot muster up enough good thoughts. Have you ever tried to remain optimistic about hard circumstances only to sense the efforts are forced and artificial? God never calls us to fake a positive attitude. If optimism depends on our ability to maintain cheerful amid fluctuating circumstances, it’s bound to falter.
God gives us a new lens through which to view the world and our lives. We don’t have to pretend circumstances are better than they are. Instead, we can have an accurate view of reality while remaining centered and at peace through the assurance of God’s hope. He empowers us to take every thought captive, reject falsehood, and live according to His promises.
Another definition of optimism is this: “the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.” This weak description fails to take eternity into account. No matter the realities we observe in life, we can have a joyful and confident countenance as we live with an eternal mindset. Biblical optimism gives us a far-sighted perspective. We understand the trials of this life are temporary, and God has far more in store for us!
When it comes to optimism and pessimism, the question often posed is: Do you see the glass half full or half empty? This question suggests the glass is filled up exactly halfway and asks the observer how they see it. But what if the glass is tipped over? Or what if it’s filled fuller? The question then becomes obsolete. The circumstance has changed, and so has the seer’s perspective. Our circumstances can change just as quickly as a glass tipping over and spilling its contents.
Biblical optimism focuses not on our situation but on God, who is sovereign over our lives and who does not change. The glass doesn’t matter because we have been filled to the fullest measure with Christ’s love! Ephesians 3:19 says we can “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Because we are complete in Christ, unforeseen circumstances don’t have to plummet us into pessimism. Instead, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we can have a steady and composed spirit.