What I’m Reading Today: 1 Thessalonians 3
You don’t have to be around me for very long before you figure out I am what many would call an eternal optimist. That part would be hard to debate. The reason why I am a wild-eyed optimist, however, is open to debate.
Lots of people think that a person is either optimistic or pessimistic by make up. I certainly understand that there are a number of biological and chemical factors that tend to make a person more prone to either being an optimist or pessimist. Depression would be a great example of something that would make a person prone toward being pessimistic. I don’t, however, think biological and chemical factors are the only reason a person is an optimist or pessimist.
So what other features play a factor?
There are several. One feature would be a person’s background or environment. That would definitely shape a person’s outlook. Another feature might be a person’s pattern of thinking. Some people develop (and nurture!) the “glass is half empty” lens through which they see the world while others chose to embrace the “glass is half full” lens. Each of these is important parts of why I am an optimist. None of them, however, are the primary reason.
So why am I such an eternal optimist?
Because of my faith. You see, during my eight years of ministry I have walked with people through some of the gravest sets of circumstances known to humanity. I have walked with individuals as they’ve wrestled with consuming addictions, death, disease, broken relationships – you name it. I’ve seen things that would give me every reason to give up on life and God. And yet I haven’t.
In every difficult circumstance – no matter how dismal and dark - I have seen seeds of new life and resurrection. Not all of those seeds have taken root and blossomed. But in every circumstance those seeds have been there. Knowing that any sense of suffering opens the door to the possibility of new life makes me the eternal optimist that I am.
Perhaps that’s why I can relate so well to Paul’s words in today’s passage when he wrote to the believers he left behind: “So when we couldn’t stand being separated from you any longer and could find no way to visit you ourselves, we stayed in Athens and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn’t be discouraged by these hard times.” I relate to those words because I too am that perpetual cheerleader. I don’t call myself a cheerleader because I fit the (inappropriate) stereotype that cheerleaders are superficial and out of touch with reality. Like Paul I am the perpetual cheerleader because I AM in touch with reality – a reality drenched with God’s presence. That sense of reality gives me the ability to see not just the hardships in life – but what lies beyond the hardship as well.
Today, instead of offering a question for your consideration – I offer something else: myself as a resource. If you ever get in that place where are you can see if the “half emptiness of the glass”, feel free to reach out for an encouraging word. Know that you – like the people of Thessalonica – have a cheerleader behind you cheering YOU on 24/7!!
Til next time…