From my weekly e-mail sent out yesterday …
What a cool morning! The temperature on the car thermometer read 45 degrees at about 5:15 a.m. The stars still shone very brightly at that early hour. The air had a clean feel. Mornings are not to be missed. Last night during his closing statement of the final Presidential Debate, President Bush described a painting. The artist described his sense of painting from the perspective from which the sun would come up. He then described this image in terms of optimism. One thing both candidates agreed on ? we should be optimistic about the future.
I thought about that this morning and a verse has rattled around in my mind and heart since last Sunday. Hebrews 11:1 reads, ?Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.? (NASB) Eugene Peterson offers this interpretive translation, ?The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It?s our handle on what we can?t see.?
Circumstances often overshadow the reality of faith. We consider difficulties obstacles to happiness and peace. Yet, it is often what we cannot see that gives us the energy and inspiration to move through those barriers. John suggests an imbalance when we say we love God, whom we cannot see, and do not love our brother (or sister) whom we can see. Sometimes then it is out of whack when we will tell others what great things God will do though we cannot see him and yet the minute we ?see? an obstacle we wilt.
Occasionally we consider this a lack of faith and think in terms of an ?amount? of faith. Jesus declared the smallest ?amount? of faith resting on the right object would create opportunities for truly amazing accomplishments. ? ?mountains cast into the sea.?
Our own optimism mustn?t rest in what we can do, or how much faith we can muster. Rather, our optimism does have a sure foundation. We are loved and kept by the God who rescued/rescues us from the coming wrath. Justice requires the wrath of God. Enemies hold us and propel us. Sin guides our decisions and death ends our hopes. Yet, in the resurrection of Jesus a new song is sung, ?O Death where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.? (1 Cor. 15:54b-58) Now THAT is optimism!
May God grant you the optimism that comes with a hopeful faith!