It's Hard to Not Be Negative
Doesn't seem to be a lot to be optimistic right now in our world. I think this is one of the negative sides of being an information/internet generation. They say that “good news travels fast”, but in a high-speed generation: bad news travels really, really fast. Between politics, the economy, moral decay and terrorist attacks, there is lots of ample material to work with.
Sometimes our own life circumstances add fuel to this fire of negativty. We all have our own combination of relational stress, job loss, sickness, grief, aging parents, rebelious children and many other things. When all put together it can be an overwhelming, all-consuming and paralyzing mess. The challenge is not to let it become our focus. Even in the darkest moments God's spirit is speaking nagging optimism to our souls.
I first heard the phrase “nagging optimism”, from an obscure Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) self-titled album by David Edwards. One blogger called it the, “best album in Christian Music that you probably don't own, but should.” My brother brought this album home from Bible College while I was still in highschool and many of the songs and lyrics still rattle around in my brain. I've thought of buying a t-shirt that says “My Brain is 80% song lyrics.” In reality it is probably closer to 90%.
The theme of the song is about how the Lord provides an optimistic approach that is clearly inexplicable. He writes:
What should be nothing but the dead of night
Looks more like something bad gone right
I have no mind for giving up
I just can’t shake it
Cause I can’t get away from you…
“I can't get away from you.” David Edwards is expressing the same thought that King David wrote in song thousands of year before in Psalm 139:7-12:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
It is truly unexplicable! The Bible says that we can have a peace that goes beyond circumstances (Philipians 4:7). A comforting presence in the midst of difficultly (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). He is the giver of strength in the midst of our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) We must slow down and listen because we may miss the still small voice of the Spirit speaking nagging optimism into ours souls.
I am not optimistic because on how I feel, but based on what God says in His Word.