My son is adopted.
He spent all but two weeks of his first 21 months in a Russian orphanage.
After more than 10 years at home with us, we still spend time in therapy each week. Most often, we’re trying to work through the issues of abandonment and rejection by his birth mother. My husband and I have tried to portray a woman we don’t know in the most positive light. To assume the best, if you will. We’ve even tried to ascribe some nobility to her actions: “She loved you enough to know she couldn’t take care of you.”
Can a Christian be a pessimist?
I certainly hope so. Or I’ve got a lot more to be worried about than my general disposition.
Maybe the more important question is whether faith and optimism are synonymous. Do these two words mean the same thing?
Methinks not. I believe they are related, but not the same. I have two lines of reasoning on this:
- I know plenty of optimists who have no belief in Christ whatsoever. Their lens on life is upbeat and sunny, but based on no Christian eschatological or theological view.
- I know plenty of ardent followers of Christ who generally see things in a negative light. The Bible speaks to discouragement, even amongst believers. And perhaps this is one reason God saw fit to send the Holy Spirit to comfort us in His absence?
- At the point of conversion to faith, I observe no broad, correlating change in “outlook bias” from pessimistic to optimistic across the general population.
You might think you treat God’s Word as infallible.
But I’m willing to wager you don’t. And that you don’t even realize it.
We may not all agree upon (or even understand!) all aspects of the Bible. After all, we interpret it with limited human thinking. When I have difficulty squaring seemingly-contradictory passages of scripture, I end up praising God that He’s bigger than my pea-brain and am grateful that He and His Word are trustworthy.
I just wasn’t feeling it.
It had been a long day in the middle of a very full week. Youth group loomed on the calendar horizon, an unwelcome commitment on this particular Wednesday. As an introvert, large group gatherings tap everything in me, so going ‘empty’ isn’t a great way to begin an evening of ministry. And 60 middle and high schoolers (whom I’ve come to genuinely adore) are a tougher crowd than most.
Chapter nine opens with Amos’ fifth and final vision. It is equally fraught with destruction as the others. This time God appears alongside what is presumably the altar at Bethel. Up close and personal. He brings down the pillars and thresholds upon the heads of those worshipping there, sending survivors scurrying for cover in the depths, heights, seas and far-reaches of the world. But they flee fruitlessly: God is omnipresent and His judgment is complete.
Can you hear them cheering?
Amos circumnavigates Israel in this first chapter of his book, exposing the sin of her neighbors and the judgment that would ensue. The approval of his Israelite hearers is almost audible to us — they would have agreed vehemently that God’s judgment of their neighbors was well-deserved.
I cheat every year.
The first morning of school is too frenetic in our household to stop and take photos on the way out the door. And my kids depart at differing times, making a group shot impossible. A few years ago, I began taking their pictures the night before school… or even a couple nights before. My goal is simply to capture what they looked like at this juncture in their lives… it doesn’t really matter to me that they don’t have a backpack on or that it wasn’t 7:45AM when I snapped the shutter.
If I take an honest look at my motivations, I admit I also prefer that their clothing is somewhat coordinated. I detoured from my Finance coursework in college and took a photography class, so I came to care whether colors and stripes conflicted or complemented. But we’re long past the days when I could mandate their ‘outfit’ for the first day of school. By taking photos on a different day, I manage to get a cohesive picture with a coordinating color scheme.
I feel a little badly about saying this to you. Even just for thinking it, really.
But I don’t feel so badly that I won’t say it. I’ve been tracking the career of an author with some 10+ Lifeway-published book titles to her name and a prolific speaking calendar. Her trajectory is one that I admittedly envy. (I’m not proud of that, but there you have it.)
Today, in my inbox, I received notice that her next big event was cancelled. Cancelled. The reason? Lack of interest and registration. Not enough attendees to justify putting on the event.
Independence Day: The day we celebrate our liberation from England and rejoice in the freedoms we have as Americans.
I offer sincere thanks to the many who fought for those freedoms (and those who continue to defend them). As a country, we enjoy parades and fireworks, BBQ, brownies and lemonade — and a day off of work. This is truly a national party. It is worthy of celebration. Yet somehow I can’t help thinking that we’ve somewhat missed the point.
This week I’m away speaking at a high school camp. Three hundred students gathered to seek God through play, worship, study and fellowship. It’s awesome.
During one worship session, the students were invited to write down those things for which they are thankful on a shared canvas. This one moved me deeply. Does it you?
We’ll resume our “scheduled programming” next week. Thanks for reading along.