Thursday, May 29, 2014

On Being Positive

If I just believe it hard enough, it will come true. This is an idea that has been around for a long time in various forms. And it is bogus. I have tried it on many occasions over the years, and it does not work. Now I have to admit there are occasions when the person who confidently forges ahead will succeed where the person who too easily gives up will fail. But I have also observed cases where the naive individual rushes in rashly and makes a mess of things where a more cautious, measured approach was really what was called for. I would suggest the ideal is the right mixture of confidence (best rooted in trusting God) and caution (from a realistic view of a world under sin and a curse). The unmixed extremes are dangerous.

But the biggest error is thinking that if we believe in something hard enough, it will make it so. It will not. Some would try to use the idea of faith to make this idea Christian. If we just have enough faith, things will work out the way we want them to. But this ignores the fact that Christian faith is faith in a Person and not some power we can use to manipulate God into doing what we want. Also, faith in God does not just involve the ability to trust God for a miracle but the ability to trust God even if no immediate miracle comes. David had the faith to trust God to enable him to kill Goliath. But he then had to trust God through the years of fleeing from Saul, when he did not see any evidence of God fulfilling His promise to give him a kingdom. Paul was used by God to heal many (Acts 19:11,12) but he was refused healing for himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God's ways are often mysterious and beyond our understanding (Isaiah 55:8,9; Romans 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20). And often God's plan can only be understood, if at all, by looking back at a later time, as it was for Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 50:20).

But the bottom line is that reality is something that is beyond our simply being able to mold it to our wills. Some degree of cautious optimism is useful. Naive optimism is a hindrance. But what we really need is to trust God even if things do not seem to be going our way (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 37:3-6). However, we should avoid the idea that we have a magician's power to shape the world to our will. For this contradicts real experience and observation.  

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