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Is Optimism always Positive?

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Devotional Thought of the Day:

35  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 (NLT2)

In the Christian catalogue of virtues, despair—that is, the radical opposite of faith and hope—is listed as a sin against the Holy Spirit, because it fails to take into account his power to heal and to forgive and thus rejects redemption. Correspondingly, in the new religion, “pessimism” is the sin of all sins, for doubt with regard to optimism, progress, and utopia is a frontal attack on the spirit of the current age: a contesting of its fundamental credo, on which its certainty rests, although it is, nonetheless, constantly threatened in view of the weakness of talk about a “make-believe” God………….
It was once again evident that there is no greater sin against the spirit of the age than to put oneself in a position where one can be accused of a lack of optimism. The question was certainly not: “Is what has been said true or not true? Are the diagnoses right or wrong?” I have been able to find no evidence that anyone took the trouble to investigate such outmoded questions. The criterion was very simple: “Is it or is it not optimistic?” And given this criterion, the book was, of course, condemned.

When I was growing up, there was a book my parents had me read called, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”  It took a lot of criticism, as did Pastor Robert Schuler,  who preached a message of positivity and wrote books which talked about how faith helped people go from trauma to healing.

They received a lot of criticism, and while I am not sure they deserved it, some took their thoughts and words and turned it into a narcissistic, “I will be blessed” religion.

We’ve gone a lot further than that today.  Now as Benedict indicated in the quote above, anything that is not optimistic is considered negative, and even evil.  An example is bringing to light the problems in our city where young men are besieged by violence, some of which is gang-related, and some of which is an overreaction by authorities in fear of being victims themselves.  

We don’t want to hear about that, it is such a negative thing to talk about.

Or the situations of kids “in the system” who bounce from house to house, unable to ever relax in a home.  There are other injustices out there, elder abuse, child abuse, the damage done by drugs to individuals and their families, 

But let’s not mention these problems, because if we do, the idea of America being utopia could be called into question.

Blind optimism is one of the worst curses today, it is the enemy of faith. It denies reality, and therefore it denies our need for God to be involved in our lives!   Jesus said the well do not need a doctor, and yet we optimistically go around saying all is well.

Paul talks in Romans 8 that all things work for good, and that nothing can separate us from God.  These statements are certainly true, yet they are an inventory of the challenges we will face.  True faith and the positive thinking approach cannot exist without hardship, without facing the reality of our brokenness, and then, depending on God, be assured that He will not let go of us.

God is here with you, comforting you, healing you, renewing you.  

The challenge is in realizing you need Him, and that takes an openness to the truth of wh you are…without him.  Not an overly optimistic one, (or overly pessimistic one… but one that rejoices sin that we were once, lost, but now found, once blind, but now we see…HIM!

May God’s peace, which goes so far beyond our comprehension, guard your hearts and mind… as you realize you dwell in Christ Jesus!  AMEN!



Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 293–294). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Is your life of faith a struggle? Yes? Great!!!!!!

Devotional/Discussion thought of the Day…..


12  I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. 13  Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. 14  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 15  So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! 16  Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.   Philippians 3:12-16 (MSG)

  Another paradox of the spiritual way: the soul which has less need to reform its behaviour struggles harder to do so, and does not stop until it has succeeded. And the contrary is also true. (1)

Back in the 1980’s, there was a saying, “life’s a bitch, and then you die….”   There are days I think we said things like that.. and were a bunch of whiney little brats.  There are other days, where looking at the pains of life, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, and the saying is dead on accurate.

Life isn’t always easy.   The life of faith, living each day trusting in God’s promises, isn’t easier.  If anything, it takes more courage, more strength of character, more trust, not blind trust, but committed trust to promises that can only be known within our heart and soul.  You see, our mind will tell us, over and over again, that such trust is based in nothing, that there is no tangible evidence for it.   People will mock you for it, and there will be days so trying of our faith, that we won’t know which way to turn.

And yet, a life lived in faith is more determined to prevail.  We struggle harder, we search harder, we do not stop or give up.  Even when we are crushed, beaten, depressed, wiped out, when nothing makes sense.  When we battle against sin, our sin, “their” sin, the damage caused by centuries and millennia of people just like us.   Somehow, no not somehow, because of the trust God has given us, because He has revealed Himself to us, we endure.  We realize that there is something more that what we struggle with, that there is more strength that we have been given, that every challenge is not so much a challenge to overcome, but a challenge to trust.

And so we do.

A friend’s dad was often mocked as a proponent of positive thinking.  He wasn’t the kind of pastor who proclaimed that if we believe we’ll be rich, we will be, not the name it claim it type of positive thinking.  But instead the kind of positive thinking shown in Paul’s epistle above – that we can strive, that we can keep going, that in the toughest times, God’s presence brings us toughness.  That the scars that we carry, are used by God to cause in us growth, such growth that is remarkable.  Not because we are tougher, but because we are more aware of His presence in our life.  You see, we have no option but Jesus, we have no comfort but His presence.

And yes we struggle – hard.  Even as Paul notes that Christ has already reached out, saved and secured us… we still have to struggle with what that means.  Even as life is painful.  Even as we see people struggle financially, losing jobs, not having enough money to pay bills.  Even as we see others deal with family crises.  Even as we see people deal with heart disease or cancer, with memory issues or just getting old.  As we see people struggle with the fact that they are in bondage to sin… or they try to ignore that fact, because of the grip that sin has on them.  And so we wait and pray, and pray, and attempt here and there to help them realize their sin, that they may realize the blessing of God’s mercy.

As St. Josemarie says – the more we know these things – the more we mature in our faith and yes, in our battle against sin, the harder it comes….

Greater as well though grows the strength and desire to push on, to lay ahold of these truths, to trust in the Lord who has grasped us.   Our effort redoubles, our desire begins to conform to His.

For our trust in Him grows… each and every time we see His hand at work.

We don’t find life easier, we don’t find it simpler… but we don’t need to… for we know He will bring us through all things…

Of that we can be positive.  Our positive thinking has nothing to do with us… and everything to do with Him.

So is life a struggle?  Is trusting in Jesus challenging?  That’s okay… the struggle is worth far more… than the lack of struggling could be…

Oh and btw  – the “die” in the phrase that started this blog?  Have you considered what comes after our death?  Exactly what is promised to us when we died spiritually in our baptism into Christ.  The difference is we shall see Him face to face!

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Je...

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 858-860). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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