There is an ethos throughout the Bible of optimism, of seeing and believing the best, a sense of knowing that this universe is in good hands, that we are in good hands. How does the Bible say it? ‘Underneath us are the everlasting arms.’ (Deut. 33:27) As God provided for the Israel nation he provides for his creation. He establishes us as his people. He has given us his word to light our path and his son to bring us into a new covenant through the sacrifice of Christ.
We could look at this world of ours and find plenty of reason to be despondent, and hopeless except for the return of Christ but I dare say that even in this life, the now life, our God is with us. He who cares for the birds and flowers has promised to care for you and me.
If heaven were our only goal then Jesus could have announced it to Adam and Eve and saved a lot of human history. But God was and is and will be looking for humans to grow into relationship with him in order to share in his eternal life as the trinity. This world is the training ground for eternal life. Some are spared this training by the will of God and some endure a living hell but the thing to remember is that God knows how it all turns out to our good. And that truth gives us hope and a confidence to live each day with God. Living with God is the most optimistic way to endure and even thrive.
Read what a man in World War II has to write:
By Jürgen Moltmann
“This was the saving experience of my life. It was 1944, at the end of World War II. As a boy of 18 years, I was drafted into the German army. In February 1945, I was taken prisoner of war and spent more than three years behind barbed wire in Belgium, Scotland and England. April 1948, I was repatriated.
At the beginning of my imprisonment, I felt completely Godforsaken. I lost all hope; all interest in life faded away. The dark night of the soul came upon me and I felt that last temptation of all who are imprisoned, to give myself up–to die the death of the soul first, and then to the death of the body.
My turn from this sickness unto death to new hope and new life came about through two things: first through the Bible, and then through the kindness of the Scottish workers and their families towards the prisoners, their former enemies. At the end of 1945, a well-meaning British army chaplain visited our camp and distributed Bibles to the prisoners. Because I came from a secular family in Hamburg, this was the first Bible in my life. Some of us wondered and would rather have had a few cigarettes. I started reading without much interest until I stumbled on the Psalms of lament. Psalm 39 held me spellbound:
“I was dumb with silence, I held my peace and my sorrow was stirred. I have to eat up my suffering within myself. My lifetime is as nothing in Thy sight. I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.”
They were words of my own heart and they called my soul to God. Later I read the Gospel of Mark. When I came to the story of the passion and read Jesus’ death cry, “My God, why have you forsaken me,” I knew with certainty, “This is the One who understands you.” I began to understand the assailed Jesus because I felt that He understood me in my God-forsakenness; He is the divine Brother in distress, who takes the prisoners with Him on the way to resurrection and life. I began to summon up the courage to live again, seized by a great hope. This early fellowship with Jesus, the Brother in suffering and the Redeemer from guilt, has never left me since. I am sure that there and then, in the dark pit of my soul, He found me. Jesus’ Godforsakenness on the cross showed me where God is in my forsakenness, where He had been in my life before, and would be in the future. The suffering God saved me in my sufferings.”
This is the reason for optimism, because Jesus has been there and is there for us. Jesus leads the way and lends the hand to each one of us. Jesus turns the atheist into a friend of God. Jesus reconciles the enemies of God.
We have not trusted Jesus enough. Not given him the chance he died to have in our lives. He is not just the Savior who somehow gets us into heaven but he is the Lord of life who lives his life with us moment by moment. He gives us a new heart, new eyes, a new ethic and a new way to live each day.
He still brings healing and hope because he is the Lord of this whole creation. I didn’t say a church was or any doctrine but Jesus himself. It’s impossible to read his words and not understand that he ‘has our backs’ as they say.