Did you know that Jesus was an optimist?

He said, “…In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Jesus wasn’t going to pretend like life was always super awesome.  He acknowledged that it was supposed to be that way, but things weren’t the way they were supposed to be.  He didn’t even pretend that knowing Him would make all trouble and care go away.  My goodness, His own life was destined for sadness and a tragic ending.  But then victory!  And this is why Jesus could be an optimist.  Because if He could walk around knowing that He was going to die a terrible death, that He was going to become intimate with all of the truly ugly things of this world (i.e. sin) when He was perfect (i.e. God), if He could still be optimistic knowing that was coming, then He knew that something even better was coming afterwards.

It’s true that life is troublesome.  That people are troublemakers.  That situations, and feelings, are troubling.  To all of that, Jesus says, “I know.”  He once experienced the beauty of the perfection that He had originally designed.  He then experienced mankind’s design, and how trouble had become part of that.

He acknowledges the upset of order.  The finality of the statement shows that this is how it has to be right now.  But before He talks about “trouble”, He talks about “peace”.  The first half of verse 33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace…”

All throughout His Word our Heavenly Father is encouraging us.  Verses that talk about undying love, unprecedented protection, and ultimate freedom.  He wants us to be optimistic.  He is.  He wants us to be light of heart.  Sure, He knows that once everything was perfect and that now it isn’t anymore.  But He also knows that it’s not about the curse, it’s about the redemption.  It’s not about how sin is in the world but about how we can still be in a relationship with Him, our Creator.  He was, and still is, willing to be a part of it, even the pain.  Anyone who rejects God and His enormous goodness on grounds of injustice, invalidity, you-name-it, have nowhere to go with that pain…

He extended an offer of adoption to me, and I accepted, and regardless of how someone may treat me, or what butterfly effect I am caught up in, I can always take heart.  There are so many orphans out there, choosing to be orphans… I choose not to be one of them.

He doesn’t tell me that He will take away my pain.  That He will make it so I never experience pain again.  We both know that is impossible.  There is no point in trying to fight something that is everything.  Stubbornness will get me nowhere.  He tells me to come to Him with my burdens, and I am happy to do so.  He tells me that He will always help me bear the weight.  I cannot pass up an offer like that.  I look all around me, and see and feel the world surrounding me, and I know that I could not possibly do it on my own.  He tells me that I can have joy in everything, and I have finally discovered what that truly means.  It doesn’t mean that everything will be “a good time”.  While enjoyment is not possible in everything, joy certainly is.  The pain I have felt drives me to the feet of my Savior with a passion and intensity that takes my breath away, and there is nothing more wonderful than needing Him.  Without that pain I would not seek Him, I would not be desperate for Him to remove the weight of it before it crushes me down and I suffocate underneath it, heavy and alone.  When I feel the pressure of my emotions, the straining of my soul, I begin the race- a race against myself and everyone else.  I will always cross the finish line, and even if I don’t cross it in this life I know I will cross it in the next, because He promises that the war is already won.  It is only my job to persevere, because it is promised that I cannot lose.  And from every time that I do cross the finish line, and the tears stop flowing because there is a little less need for them, I absolutely know this to be true, and I am so joyful.  I am so hopeful for that final finish line.

As unavoidable as the trouble is, it should be just as much unavoidable to counter it with Hope and Endurance.  Don’t forget to tell your face!  I heard that explained in the most accurate way possible: sometimes Christians communicate with the right words but, unfortunately, they give off a negative vibe that speaks much louder.  The excitement of Victory doesn’t shine in their eyes, and the joy of Hope doesn’t resonate with a smile.  Those expressions should come with knowing the Lord.  So don’t forget to tell your face!
The simple fact is that believing in Jesus IS hope! I admit that I am not a natural born optimist, so I sometimes have to be really intentional about being hopeful.  I just naturally tend towards skepticism.  I become overwhelmed by negativity when I see the magnitude of it around me.  I have felt that it is impossible to function in this [troublesome] world.  That my beautiful Christianity must be guarded from the ugliness of everything else.

But then I learned that I had bought into a lie.

You see: He has overcome the world.

The battle is already won.

We linger because the Lord is merciful.  I knew that I needed to be taking my energy of paranoia and investing it in a much better way.

I needed to accept that my troubles were not a personal vendetta against me; that they weren’t the very hand of God, or His blind eye.  They were merely the result of troubling people, a broken system, and my own bad choices.

I needed to take God at His Word and begin each day by laying those troubles at His feet, and exchanging them for a burden of hope.  I find that this one is much easier to carry.  Who wouldn’t rather carry the same weight of incense, as opposed to the same weight of …something that smells the opposite?  You get my drift.  Some people really have no idea how very badly they smell…

But what does Hope look like?

To me, it meant accepting that maybe politicians were dictating serious decisions about my life, and my freedom, but that they didn’t dictate my day to day.  I learned that I could pay taxes while undeserving parties received that money, or that I could always follow the rules while people all around me break them, endangering themselves and others, never being held accountable, but such things needn’t determine the quality of my life.  My husband could lose his job time and time again, and we could even lose our house, but it wasn’t going to be forever.  Nothing is forever.

He has overcome the world!

If Jesus Christ bore scars, marks on His physical body from being banged up in this troublesome world, than I should be so blessed to receive my own wounds.

If Jesus can receive with Grace, and His Spirit lives in me, then so can I.

If Jesus can spread a message of Hope, even through His Own impending darkness at the time, but looking forward towards the time of healing and restoration, then so can I.

Sure, I see trouble, but I counter with Hope.