Pickled

Between the two of us, those two being my husband Jamie and I, I am most certainly the most pessimistic. Jamie gets out of bed with an optimism that can’t be fabricated. He is naturally outgoing, social, and energetic. However, he says that in his younger years he was negative and sullen, almost to the point of depression. Only because I know Jamie can’t lie, do I believe him; he is so very different now to what he describes himself as being in his teens.

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My family comes from Finland where people tend to be kindly pessimistic. I say kindly because Finns are perhaps among the nicest people (no bias intended) on earth. I’ve only had occasion to visit twice, and hope to visit more than once more in my lifetime, but while visiting I did notice a general tendency to prepare for worst-case-scenarios. My own family leans in this “prepare for the worst” direction and when visiting Finland, I wondered if my own pessimism might not only be a personal quirk but also a cutural tendency.

I’ve often justified the dark cloud that has sometimes hung over my head as “being realistic.” The problem with my version of  being realistic is that it often collides with Kingdom principles of believing the best, hoping for the best, and enduring all things (1 Cor. 13:7). The sense gained from reading 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter” of the Bible, is one of optimism, hope, and joy. While I was only seven when I received Christ, I was already pickled with pessimism – I had the ability to drain joy and expectation out of nearly every experience.

Somehow I knew, even at such a young age, God had better in store for me. I began looking for joy and hope for it seemed to me that joy and hope had much more to offer than negativity. It didn’t take long for me to discover how good it is to trust God in the face of those worst case scenarios. I learned the worst case could be turned around to be the best case.

Romans 8:28 NKJ “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Everything, the good, bad, and ugly, all come together in perfect sync when we are pursuing God’s Kingdom. This doesn’t mean that we should expect to live in some utopia free of trouble, nor does it mean that we should expect to live defeated, free of blessing. The truth lies not somewhere in between but above these two extremes.

Hebrews 6:9a NASB “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you…”

There are always better things that God has in store for us; sometimes those better things come after we have walked down the paths of dark shadows (Ps. 23) but even in the dark shadows there are tables prepared for us to sustain us in the valley.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NKJ But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

The darkness we feel that closes in on us is an attempt to snuff out the treasure we carry, but the darkness actually serves the purpose of reminding us that the glory belongs to God and not us. We’re pressed, perplexed, persucuted, and struck but none of these things can destroy us as long as we remember and are convinced of the fact that we carry the treasure.

What lies ahead is better.

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