Ingredients Of Christian Optimism

W. Terry Varner
July 31, 2016

Jesus promised almost 2,000 years ago: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Amazingly, Paul wrote from his prison cell in Rome, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philip. 4:13). These are still valid promises. Romans 8 contains a number of great encouragements for the Christian: “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us” (8:31). I firmly believe that one who thinks superficially, or who looks at “the things that can be seen,” is likely to ask how he can maintain optimism in a troubled world in which he lives. Consider for a moment:

Why is anyone optimistic? Part of the answer is found in Paul’s words, “But now abides . . . hope” (1 Cor. 13:13). Hope is one of the basic elements of the Christian character and it would not be wrong to speak of hope as the very heart of our salvation. “For in hope were we saved” (Rom. 8:24). Hope is described as “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19). An old English preacher made the following profound observation: “When the Psalmist wrote: ‘Hope thou in God,’ he gave the world the only ground for hope that exists.” The lack of hope is an estrangement with Christ. Thomas Campbell, the poet, expressed it with these words:

Auspicious hope! In thy sweet garden grew
Wreaths for each toil, charm for every woe.

If there is no hope, there would be no optimism; for optimism proceeds upon the very assumption that good will ultimately will triumph over evil.

Ingredients of Christian hope. As with all biblical doctrine there are ingredients making the Christian hope meaningful.

We have confidence in the faithfulness of God. We are told that “the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3). “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not: for He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:23). “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19, ESV).

We have the knowledge of the person and example of Jesus. When Jesus left heaven for earth, He came into a wicked and hostile world. Here among men He demonstrated the meaning of truth, nobility, love, and all the other virtues of life. These virtues were the sum and total of His character. We recognize His authority when He speaks: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). “He taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes” (Matt. 7:29). A knowledge of Jesus gives us hope. “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19).

We have great resources available to us through prayer. Being able to talk to God in reverent prayer surely gives the Christian optimism. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philip. 4:6-7).

As Christians, we have every reason to be highly optimistic as we continue to walk with God. We encourage you to do so.