A couple of months ago a post by a friend, Chris Daley, was published on our blog titled, “Can We Defeat Despair?” In times like these it would seem like no one could blame us for getting a little down and perhaps even cynical. Just a week ago we remembered, with sadness, the tragic morning we recall as 9/11. Yet, as we remembered 9/11 we also cried out for peace in a world on the brink of war because of the violence and unrest in Syria.
A week later, our city finds itself in shock as our Nation’s Capital takes center stage in a tragedy that will go down in history as the Navy Yard shooting. Simultaneously, on the other side of the nation, floods as we have never seen before, devastate the state of Colorado, washing away the homes, memories and livelihoods of thousands of people. To this we can add our own list of downers: problems at work, problems at home, financial hardships, sickness and even death.
As a result of all these adverse situations and circumstances we may be tempted to ask God why do these things happen? I don’t pretend to answer that question, as it has been very well addressed in a previous post by Pranitha Fielder, titled, “ Why?” However, I would like to challenge ourselves to live our lives with faith-based optimism.
Many times Peter’s letters seem to be overshadowed by Paul’s writings, yet I really like how he puts it when he writes in 1 Peter 1:3-6:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter mentions a Living Hope, and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. Furthermore, he goes on to say that through faith we are shielded by God’s power! This indeed is a good reason to be optimistic. What do we have to fear if the Creator of the universe will shield us with His power as long as we place our faith in Him? Yet, we cannot leave the text here, because if we did, we would be left only with half the blessings. Peter continues his letter by saying (1Peter 1:6-9):
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This shield which is promised though faith is not a shield from the adverse effects and consequences of living on a planet ill from sin. Yet this shield protects us from despair, hopelessness, depression or just the seasonal downsies, because our hope is not circumstantial, or based on our surroundings but in Him who we have not seen yet, but believe. And this belief, this faith, gives us “an inexpressible and glorious joy”.
Someone once said “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” We cannot escape the realities of this sin- stricken world. But we can choose our attitudes, we can live with great optimism, with an inexpressible and glorious joy, because we know that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” And as we do so, this faith-based optimism will transform our lives, and the lives of those around us.
By Paolo Espsoito