As I write these words, my family and I are in the midst of a great trial. What follows flows from what the Lord is teaching me.
Profound darkness is encroaching on our world. Paul prophesied it would come (2 Tim. 3:1-7). Jesus prophesied that in the last days, apostasy and suffering would increase, and love will decrease (Matt. 24:4-14). Looming evil is like fog, rolling slowly but surely, threatening to obscure the sun.
This ever-darkening world celebrates sin, and difficulties abound. It is sometimes challenging to have hope and see the light. The thick fog of despair has a way of deflating our prayer life and making God’s mercies and blessings difficult to see. The sun may be difficult to see, but that foggy haze does not mean the sun is not there. Indeed, the sun and the Son always shine bright.
Our ability to see the light, the good, is much more about the heart than the eyes. With God’s help, hope can find a home in our hearts. Hope provides our mind with a positive filter through which we can process the trials of the day. Hope produces optimism; optimism enhances our witness. A powerful witness – particularly during times of trial – honors God, and when we honor God, God will, in turn, honor us.
In Philippians 4, Paul exhorts believers with these words:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Many are familiar with that encouraging passage, but few understand Paul was quoting a familiar secular proverb of his day – with one exception. In verse 8, Paul adds the phrase whatever is “lovely.”
A study of the tone and structure of the original Greek text reveals that the word lovely is more than an attribute; it is a mindset. Paul is encouraging us to have optimism. This was the first-century version of seeing the cup half full rather than half empty.
Watchmen must continually pray and strive to be experts at wielding the powerful weapons of hope and optimism.
Hope and optimism are contagious. Your smile will lead others to smile. Your hope will help others to persevere. Where hope and optimism are planted, the enemy has no foothold (Ephesians 4:27).
Jesus promised that difficulties and trials would come (John 16:33; Matt. 24:3-14). An optimist will see the opposition as an opportunity to grow spiritually. Those with hope will persevere through times of pressure and focus on God’s promises for tomorrow rather than the problems of today.
Wise Watchmen endure the sufferings associated with the last days because they are mindful of the Lord’s directive in Luke 21:
“When these things begin to take place, look up…because the day of your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28)
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