It is difficult for me to be close relationally to a pessimist. In fact, I don’t know how anyone would want to hang around with a negative person for a long time (unless it was another pessimist!).
Once I was with a preacher and he called the home of a friend to speak with him. The wife, who was a chronic complainer, answered the phone. Before he asked to speak to her husband, he cheerfully asked her, “How are you doing today?”
Well, she began to tell him. I do not exaggerate, he sat in the chair with the phone in his hand for several minutes without speaking a word while she told him all of her problems, aches, and maladies. He looked at me helplessly with the phone to his ear with an incredulous expression on his face. Finally, after she had finished verbally throwing up on him with all of her negativity, she gave the phone to her husband to speak to his friend.
Here’s what is interesting. I knew the person that answered the phone and her inclination to complain. I probably would have said, “Hello, Mrs. ___________, this is Rick, it’s good to speak with you. May I speak with your husband?” Perhaps you may say (and you would be right), “Rick, that’s not a very kind or loving thing to do”. But I want you to see in this post that what she did to my friend (and most everyone to whom she spoke) was not loving either.
All of us have complained and been negative before – it is part of our corrupt nature. However, there are some people that never see the best, but can always find something negative. Love is honest, but it is hopeful. Love doesn’t lie, but it is able to see what is good and believe for a better end.
One of my favorite authors, Warren Wiersbe, wrote, “You cannot change the past, but the past can change you, either for better or for worse. It all depends upon how you look at it. The past can be a rudder that guides you, or an anchor that hinders you. Leave your past mistakes with God, and look to the future by faith”.
We live in a broken and evil world. It is not always easy to love people. Sometimes we don’t feel like loving at all, our emotions are numb, we are operating from a sense of duty. Sometimes we give and give without any reciprocation of gratitude for what we have done. Most people don’t understanding giving, they understand trading. They only give when they get something in return. But love is not trading; it doesn’t think of what it will receive and gives anyway.
I’m not saying that love is practicing the “power of positive thinking”. If you are just hanging on, hoping for a better day when things will be more comfortable and easier, you may be waiting a long time. Even a lifetime. That’s why some people become bitter at family members that have disappointed them.
They keep expecting for something specific to happen (a rebellious child to change, their spouse to stop an irritating habit, to be able to have a baby) and hope and hope for it. When it doesn’t happen according to their time frame or the way they dreamed about it, there is disappointment, confusion, and sometimes anger at a person or toward God.
Love involves giving in spite of receiving and believing in spite of seeing any tangible result on the horizon. Love believes anyway. We are able to have hope because we have a living Savior and a Bible filled with promises from a benevolent and good Heavenly Father.
The Bible says that love “hopeth all things” (I Corinthians 13:7). The very presence of hope means that we are believing for something in the future which we do not have in the present. The word “hopeth” means “to have an expectation”. It is not merely a desire or wish, but a strong confidence in a word from God.
Love is able to believe for the best even when it doesn’t seem possible. Love is not pessimistic, but optimistic because it believes for a better day. This is not the mantra of a motivational speaker, but the very words of God – “love…hopeth all things”.
We do this all the time in parenting. Our children have to be trained to obey and it isn’t an easy process. It requires patience and hope. It would help us, too, to remember that we are training them for godliness, not perfection. No children are perfect, nor can they be because of their sinful nature which has a propensity to sin.
Our children will fail; they will hurt us. If our standard for them is perfection and that becomes our expectation then disappointment is sure to be our future. But we can still love them and have hope because of the bigger picture we have within God’s plan.
I’m sure there were times when my parents wondered if I was going to ever have a heart for the Lord. Though I became a Christian when I was a nine year old boy, it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I yielded my life fully to the Lord. That’s a long time for a Dad and Mom to wait and hope and pray. Love will enable us to do that for our kids. Love is strong.
Just as there are no perfect children, there are no perfect parents. Though I have sincerely tried to live right in front of my family, there have been many times when I have failed. I want to be consistent in my life, but I also want my children to love me when I stumble and disappoint them. I want them to have a hope and expectation for me that God can help me and change me.
Some of the most bitter people I have ever met are those that have grown up in a Bible-believing church, but had parents that were inconsistent. If parents are to love their children when they have failed and have hope for them, so adult children are to love their parents in spite of their failures with the same hope.
What are you going to do when your children don’t seem to be getting the lessons you are trying to model for them and teach them? You will either become angry with them or you will hope (remember this means to expect) that they will catch your lessons sometime. It is love that enables you to hope.
Once in my Sunday Bible study class of middle-aged adults we were discussing parenting at that age in life. Someone that had a married child spoke up and said, “If you think it’s tough being a parent of teenagers wait until your children marry and make choices you would not make that are not good for them”.
That was an insightful moment for me. This couple loved the Lord and had raised their children as best they could to follow the Lord. At the time none of my children were married and only one of them was in college. I tucked that thought away for consideration. I think they are right. That doesn’t make me a cynical parent, but one that realizes I must love my kids by “hoping for all things”, trusting and believing that God is working in their lives, even in their adult years.
Are you a person that hopes for the best or expects the worst in people and situations? Your response to the question tells whether or not you understand what it means to genuinely love. I believe that people that love are people that are positive. If you do not help people believe for a better day then you do not love them.
Having hope and confidence is not based on having faith in faith or just focusing on the positive. It is believing God and when you do that you are able to encourage people. Someone said that “encouragement is the oxygen of the soul, you can’t live without it”.
However, encouragement doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Encouragement is based on hope in the character of God to do what He said He would do. Love is full of hope because God is always a factor in the life of a believer and He is a “God of hope” (Romans 15:13).
When a person loses hope they are on their way to losing the battle. The Bible says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12) Over time as our expectations begin to fade our hearts begin to sink into discouragement. Sometimes our hopes will not be realized until we wake up in Heaven. The Scripture doesn’t say “hope denied”, but “hope deferred”. There is a major difference.
This can happen when a person has a chronic illness or is in adverse circumstances over a sustained period of time. Job was a godly man and, yet, when he experienced the loss of his family and his health the emotional and physical pain began to wear on him. He said, “My days…are spent without hope”. (Job 7:6) God still loved him, but Job couldn’t see the entire picture at that moment.
Don’t base your hope on present circumstances. Do you view God through your circumstances or your circumstances through God? Yes, our challenges are real and difficult, but our God is real and mighty! If you gaze at your problems and glance at God you will lose hope; if you gaze at God and glance at your problems you will be filled with hope.
Love brings one hope. Love inspires others by having hope and expecting the best in the worst of circumstances. As long as you focus on that which is bad and negative you will never have hope. When you are negative and cynical to those around you, you are not only smothering hope, but you are not dispensing love.
I like what Horace Traubel wrote, “If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires”. We do live in a cold, heartless world. I wonder when you arrive home if you bring a chill of discouragement or the warmth of hope and love to your family. Love “hopeth all things” (I Corinthians 13:7).
John Phillips said, “The future belongs to God, and God is love, so hope, which deals in the future, looks to God and sings”. Without hope there is no love and without love there is no song.
I want to have a song of hope and love so others would be blessed, especially my family. But before the song and the love is hope in an unfailing and faithful God.
My father had a simple statement he would often repeat to me during hard times. As I grew older I saw the truthfulness of it and how it was based on the sovereignty of God. Dad would tell me, “Son, everything will be all right”. I’ve heard him say that scores of times.
When you’re in the middle of a storm and can’t see the light it just sounds like an empty platitude. But over and over what he said proved true. Everything did turn out all right. One day I discovered that I was telling people in distress, “I’m so sorry; everything will be all right”. It’s one of the truisms I have most often said to people – and I really believe it and mean it. I learned it from Dad and he learned it from the Lord.
The summer of 2012 was the most difficult of my life. Without going into all of the details I have a debilitating disease that was hounding me and I was deeply depressed. My son, Jeremiah, called me one night to go somewhere with him and I was hurting physically and emotionally so much that I asked him for a rain check.
But my son was persistent. He gently prodded me to go with him. I was on a very thin margin emotionally and I began to cry on the phone and apologized to him. I really did want to be with him and was so honored that he would ask me. It hurt me that I would say no.
I have never in my life asked my children to care for me financially or emotionally. After apologizing through tears to Jeremiah I wanted to hang up because I didn’t want him to hear me in such a weakened condition. However, he wouldn’t let me go.
He said, “Dad, everything is going to be all right. Isn’t that what Dot (his name for my father, his grandfather) always said to you?” I replied, “Jeremiah, it is what Dad would say to me and one day everything will be all right”. Even though I said it with a broken heart I knew it was true.
I don’t even know if my son remembers that evening, but I will never forget it. I felt loved because he gave me hope. My dear friend, your family, your husband, wife, and children need hope from you. When you speak hope to them, they know you love them.