Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is Optimism Bad?

I’m reading a book called God on Mute, where the author talks about that frightening topic of why God sometimes appears to be mute. Silent. Distant. The author devotes a section of the book to explaining why God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers.

The author offers several explanations for why prayers go unanswered, but one of his theories is that life is meant to be hard. He tells the story of a poor sap who encounters several crushing blows – his daughter is sick, he begins to develop a debilitating disease, he is in danger of losing his job, etc. The author asks the guy how he copes without losing faith in God, and the man says something like, “The moment I accepted that life isn’t easy or fair, and that it’s a tough struggle, then I didn’t experience disappointment when bad things happened.”

This is a difficult concept for me. I refer to myself as an eternal optimist, and some days my hope that things will get better is the only thing that sustains me. To give up on this hope and accept that things won’t get better, or that they may get better just before getting bad again, seems defeating, depressing and gloomy. Being an optimist isn’t easy. At least once a month, my expectations and hope endure a jarring shake. I then need a day to recover, rethink my expectations, and get back to the business of hoping for a better day tomorrow.

So, should we lower our expectations for this life and expect the worse? Should we be more surprised when good things happen rather than when bad happens?


Deanna said...

Here's my thought...I think we are supposed to allow God to redefine for us what 'joy' or 'happiness' is. When we walk with Him those aren't determined by our external circumstances but our internal condition. Therefore we can get kicked in the teeth over and over again but still be optimists, and happy ones at that, because we're happy on the inside, not just the outside. But Germany is a very pessimistic place. Really, I say, "The weather looks good," and a German will answer, "It could rain in a few minutes." Or, "Congrats, you won the lottery!" and they'll answer, "But I'll have to pay taxes." They think optimism is either shallowness or a lack of touch with reality. So my question is, "Is optimism a cultural thing?" Great thought-provoking blog. Thanks!

Oblivinon said...

Hi Brittney
I'm a missionary in Bolivia and saw a comment you made on Missions Misunderstood about sort of lossing faith in miracles...

Not running out of gas is not a miracle... BEING HEALED OF AIDS is a miracle. (But don't believe a word of it unless someone does the proper documentation)

Check-out this aids healing testimony on my web site under 'news' (and the full documentation on cwg)

Let me know if it doesn't inspire your faith.

Michael & Daisy Lund
Vertical Life Ministries, Bolivia