Optimist or Pessimist, Realist or… Something Else

I personally hover between the centre and the right hand one.

I personally hover between the centre and the right hand one.

An optimist is a man who looks after your eyes, and a pessimist is a man who looks after your feet.  G K Chesterton

Before trying to parse out the profound of the above quote, understand that is a bit of Chestertonian humour.  But of course there is such a thing as optimism (seeing the sunny side).  And pessimism (assuming the worst).  And so-called realism (this is just the way it is).  Personality types may tend to one or the other.  But which is the most Biblical?

I’ve seen naive optimism.  I’ve seen pessimism mascarading as realism.  I’ve seen such gloomy outlooks that I can’t imagine how any solid hopefulness can break in.  I’ve seen all these in others and I’ve known them all in myself.  But for those who place their trust in Christ – and His word and promises – the categories need not govern us.

Optimism depends on a rosy outlook on circumstances.  Pessimism is a negative view of those same circumstances.  So-called realism is a so-called real look at those circumstances.  The contents of the glass of circumstance is the same, you see, in all cases.  But there is a view which does not depend upon present circumstances at all.

There is a view which does not view present circumstances as the determining factor at all.  That view is trusting in Christ as King and all His past, present, and future work.  If He is in charge, and in control, and sure of future victory then there is nothing in our present circumstances that can shake us.  This was (and is) one of the central messages of an incredible message sent from an ancient pastor to the congregations of the ancient world.  Christ is crucified, Christ is risen, Christ is alive on the throne, Christ is coming with His Kingdom.  That is a foundation for hope – true hope gives no allegiance to optimism, pessimism, or so-called realism – for true hope transcends all present circumstance.  Or in the words of one greater than I:

“I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead”   Lesslie Newbigin  

 

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One thought on “Optimist or Pessimist, Realist or… Something Else

  1. Thank you Stephen for these words you wrote. I went searching for that Newbigin quote on google this morning and found this entry. I’m a youth pastor in Sequim, Washington who recently had brain surgery. I feel your concise words capture what I’ve felt the last 3 weeks- thank you for that.

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