In this message I hope to continue the series on “Being Happy in an Unhappy World”, by addressing both an enemy of happiness and a great gift from the Lord to fight that enemy. The enemy is fear, and the gift is “Optimism”.
Our Lord often told those He was going to heal or save from personal disasters to: “Fear Not”(Luke 8:50). Fear is the greatest enemy of happiness. Fears will keep coming up, but we can rise above them. Fear fits in to one of two categories: Fear of not having enough and Fear of not being enough.
In Part One, I wrote about the greatest antidote to fear, and that was love. You get love for yourself and for others from God. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that does not love, does not know God.” (I John 4:7-8). It is unlikely you can be happy in an unhappy world without love, and loves starts with God and ends with God.
These words above were said to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by a man who asked Him to heal his child. The Lord had just said to him: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” (Mark 9:23). With the help of the Holy Spirit today, it is my prayer that your unbelief can be helped by God’s Word and you can believe.
Believe what? Believe that God loves you and that He wants you to be happy in an unhappy world, and wants to meet your needs. “My God shall supply all your need according to His in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19).
In this message I would like to discuss “Optimism”. Optimism believes that God can help you. It is a positive outlook on your circumstances and problems. Optimism provides power over painful events. Optimism gives you power over fear of the future and over regret for the past. You can learn a set of skills that free you from the tyranny of pessimism and will allow you to use optimism when you choose. Each of us carries a word in our hearts, a “no”, or a “yes” in deciding how we think of situations.
There are two kinds of people and they look at life in two different ways. First there is the pessimists. They live in fear. They say “no” to trying again after a failure. They tend to believe bad events will last a long time and will undermine everything they do, and often blame themselves or others.. Secondly, the optimists, when confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about their misfortune in the opposite way. They say “yes” to starting over after a failure. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback and it is due to circumstances or bad luck.. They perceive their problems as a challenge and try harder. They have learned what Jesus meant when he told His disciples “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. (Matthew 14:27). He was telling them to be optimistic in the storms of life for He is there with us.
Our Lord wants us to be optimistic in difficult times and even be happy when the world around us is not a happy place. “In this world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Optimistic people become successes in school, at work, on the playing field and in relationships. They are successful because of what they do when they feel they have run up against a brick wall. What one does is the difference between helplessness and success, They learn how to keep going and do not quit. The child of God says and believes: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
The way we think about life can actually diminish or enlarge the control we have over it. The pessimist can become paralyzed by fear and the very thought “Nothing I do matters”, prevents them from acting. Pessimistic prophecies are self-fulfilling.. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think. Isn’t it amazing that the Bible told us about this 4000 years ago: “For as a person thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). And our Lord Jesus told us how important it is the way we think. “A good person out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things, and an evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:35).
It is important about what you believe and say to yourself. It is important the way you explain things to yourself. If you have a pessimistic conversation with yourself you are more likely to get depressed easily, second, you are probably achieving less in your life than your talents could produce, and third, your physical health is probably not what it should be and may even get worse as you get older.
Ask yourself: “What good will it do me to dwell on these negative feelings and thoughts?”
The Lord is saying to us all today, to think about how you treat yourself and in turn others. “You have planted much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough, you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you put clothes on yourself, but there in no warmth;; and he that earns wages, earns wages to put into bags with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” (Haggai 1:6-7). This is what happens to people who live a life of pessimism. Will you “Consider your ways”?
You may say that you cannot help the way you feel, but you can control what you think. And when you control what you think and what you say to yourself, your feelings will change.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
It is not easy to change, but it is possible. Happiness is a choice, and a choice that the Lord Jesus desires to help you with. “I have come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).
Will you be happy in this unhappy world? It depends on how you talk to yourself and if you will let God help your unbelief.