If we begin to look at life as God’s great adventure for us (apologies to SCC), and if we look at setbacks as challenges to be overcome with God’s help, then our whole worldview begins to shift. I’ve been accused of being a pessimist and my immediate response was that I was a realist. Heard that before? I’m sure you have. Some of you may have even used it. However, from a Christian perspective, there’s a whole lot of reasons for us to be positive people. We’re positive, but positive with a proper perspective. God is in control. Jesus cannot be defeated by anybody, especially our Enemy. Therefore, salvation is never in question. God is perfect and loving and holy. Therefore, His plans are for the best and they are never thwarted. Even if ill befalls us (at least, from the world’s perspective), we can rejoice in these things. That’s because we should remember that when ill befalls us and it’s not a case of our sin being the cause, then it is for the best. Even when it is due to our own sin, God still finds some way to make it work for the best. Perhaps it’s not the best for us, but it’s the best for the Kingdom. And in the end, that is the best for us. That’s why Peter can write these words:
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:8-9, ESV
I love that wording, “joy that is inexpressible.” This should describe my life, but I too often let the cares of the world cloud that joy. However, if I look at life as a great adventure, then I should rise above those cares, instead looking at the successes, the times when God does something amazing, the relationship I have with Him, and the relationship I have with His people. If you want a word picture, imagine a plane or spacecraft punching through to get above the clouds and the view that you might have. That should be us. There is so much to celebrate, so much to be thankful for, and so much to find joy in. Instead, our perspective is skewed. We focus on the bad over the good. We give greater weight to that bad when we should give significantly more credit to the good. Folks who live with a “joy that is inexpressible” give each it’s proper credit, meaning the good overwhelming wins out. I can remember Joni Eareckson Tada writing about how her visits to some third world countries left her in awe. Folks with far less than she had, suffering similar physical impairments, were filled with such joy. What was their secret? They saw more in the good that comes with belonging to Christ than they did in the bad of the world around them and in their physical condition. There’s a lesson in there for us.
If you’re the type, like me, who tends to focus on the negatives, stop this line of thinking as soon as you see yourself going down it. Instead, focus on the positives. Focus on the good things. Consider the eternal things. Look at what God has done for you and for those you know. Remember how God has come through in the past. Change yourself from looking at the bad things that are in your life to the good things. That doesn’t mean ignore the bad things, especially if they are things you should work on or overcome, but don’t magnify their importance or their impact. Put them in their proper place. This will lead to a “joy that is inexpressible.” Our faith leads to salvation because our Savior chose to give us this gift of grace. There is nothing bad that happens in this world that can compare with that. Let us rejoice in our Lord, continuing finding joy in Him instead of in the occasion circumstance, and look forward each day as another day of a great, great adventure.