By Randy Alcorn, January 22, 2016 blog at: http://www.epm.org
No Christian should be a pessimist. We should be realists—focused on the actuality that we serve a sovereign and gracious God. But because of the reality of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and His promises, biblical realism is, ultimately, optimism.
If we build our lives on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ’s eternity-shaping redemptive work, we can be optimists. Why? Because even our most painful experience is but a temporary setback. Our pain and suffering may or may not be relieved in this life, but will certainly be relieved in the next. That is Christ’s promise—no more death, crying or pain; he will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:4). Indeed, any other foundation is sand, not rock. It will inevitably disappoint us
Knowing that our suffering will be once and for all relieved and God will use it for our eternal good (Romans 8:28) doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it bearable. So too does the promise, “The sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18); and, the profound truth that our present sufferings are light and momentary, but are achieving for us something weighty, glorious, and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Locking our minds onto these truths allows joy in the midst of suffering. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you… Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:22-23). We who will one day enter into our Master’s happiness can front-load that happiness into our lives today.
Paul said, “I rejoice in my sufferings” (Colossians 1:24), and James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). The apostles didn’t enjoy suffering, but they could rejoice in the midst of it, because they trusted their gracious God’s eternal plan. They believed in His constant presence, that we are more than conquerors through Him, and nothing shall separate us from the love of Jesus (Romans 8). They looked forward to Christ’s return, their bodily resurrection, and the redemption of God’s creation.
Christ said to His disciples, who would suffer much, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Our optimism isn’t “health and wealth gospel” wishful thinking which claims that God will spare us from suffering here and now. Peter said, “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). Christ’s future glory, in which His children will participate, is the reason for our present rejoicing while suffering.
As Christ’s followers, we know this world isn’t evolving into something better. Still, even if bright spots seem few, we have much to be grateful for. Thanking God and others feeds our perspective and helps us enter into our Master’s happiness today. It then spills over to those around us.
Understanding the biblical doctrine of Heaven and the resurrection will shift our center of gravity and radically change our perspective. We don’t need a bucket list because we’ll live forever as part of a great adventure far better than anything here and now. This realization is what the Bible calls “hope,” a word used six times in Romans 8:20-25, the passage in which Paul says that all creation longs for our resurrection and the world’s coming redemption.
Don’t place your hope in favorable circumstances, which cannot last. Place your hope in Christ and His promises. Jesus promised He will return, raise us, and bring us to live with him and the Father in the place is preparing for us (John 14:1-6).
I’m not optimistic about everything, but I am very optimistic about the future of all who trust Jesus. Our glass is already half full and will one day, for God’s beloved children, be completely and eternally full to overflowing.
King David wrote, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
The night may seem long for God’s people, but the truth is that once morning comes, it will never end. Neither will joy. Every day will be better than the one before. Jesus promises that we really will live happily ever after.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. –Victor Hugo
Romans 5:5a — This hope does not disappoint us…
II Corinthians 4:16-18 — So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Romans 8:18 — I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
Luke 20:10b — (Jesus said), ” Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths...
Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.