I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Even the most ardent optimist would have difficulty finding the good in the present state of the world: climate change threatens our planet, fascism threatens international peace, racism and political volatility threaten our domestic peace. How can we be optimistic when our eyes and ears tell us to be afraid?
Some believe that our relationship with Christ will lead to an increase in blessings; if we have X amount of faith then we will receive Y amount of happiness. But if that were true, why didn’t the apostle Paul have a better life? Or Peter? Or Stephen?
Others believe that we simply need to make it through to the other side. We should avert our eyes from all the evil around us and run as fast as we can to the safety of heaven after we die. But then why were we born at all? Why did God grant us a certain number of years on earth if we are just here to run through a burning building as carefully and quickly as we can? Why are we here?
Christian optimism is not the promise of happiness, success, or even safety. It doesn’t save us from pain or suffering. There’s a reason why there have been more Christian martyrs than Christian billionaires.
We can be optimistic NOT because we are safe from the evil of the world or because we are going to escape one day. We are optimistic because of the transforming power of God’s love. Without God, we are slaves to the flesh that is set on earthly things. With God’s spirit, we are free from the flesh and can serve God as sons and daughters! We are more than a random collection of DNA strands and multiplying cells. We are here to do more than simply cling to pleasure for as long as we can before dying a meaningless death. We are divine creatures, filled with personality, creativity, and the very breath of God in our lungs. We have a purpose. We are here to tend the garden and drive out the serpents. We can be optimistic because our existence is not a mistake.
Reason for Optimism 4: We have a purpose.