During an interview, Bishop Lesslie Newbigin was asked, “Would you say you’re a pessimist or an optimist?” He replied, “I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Christ raised from the dead!”
Really? That’s your answer?
My pastor quoted this in church last night and it got me thinking. Over the years I’ve been posed with the same question. In job interviews, small group ice breakers, dinner table queries, you name it.
For most of my life, I’ve have been called an optimist. I’ve even been called Pollyanna on occasion. Polly for short.
But over the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen enough hurt and injustice in this world; have personally been taken advantage of enough times; and have watched too many people I love find themselves scarred from the shrapnel of shattered dreams… that my rose colored glasses have fogged over and are really more of a grayish hue now.
Not to sound dramatic, though I’m good at that, but these tragic and seemingly hopeless situations have shaken my faith at times and caused me to question what I believed, and why I believed it.
It’s taken some time to attune my perspective. And honestly, if I were not a follower of Jesus and had my life not been rescued and renewed by the Spirit of the One who created me… I would simply throw my hands in the air and adopt the title of Queen Pessimist.
But as a believer there’s really only one answer to the question of whether I should be pessimistic or optimistic. The answer is, as Bishop Lesslie Newbigin said, “Neither”.
To be a total Pessimist would mean I’m blinded to hope because the disparity right in front of me has so has blackened my vision to see beyond the now. To be a total optimist means I chose to ignore any negative thought toward the future regardless of how dismal things are currently. The problem with this view is that I am not responding appropriately to what’s in front of me, perhaps burying my head while waiting in anticipation for what I believe is still to come. But ignoring or being in denial of the negative in front of me renders me ineffective to being a conduit of renewal… right now.
How do I reconcile all of that? By learning to live in the now and the not yet. By being brave and broken, all at once. By willingly entering into someone’s pain because I know it won’t destroy me. When I know I am loved by the God of all grace, and I live in this world as if I really believe it… I can do nothing other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life and hope wherever I go.
So,I’m neither optimist nor pessimist… because Christ came, He died and He rose again. ‘Nuff said.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.