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Searching for the Positive


As I was outlining the possible outcomes of a dreaded medical appointment to Miss 18, she said, “There, now you’ve said something positive about each possibility.”

And I responded, “Well, since God is in charge and loves us there is something positive in everything.  We may as well focus on finding what that is rather than complaining.”

To my own surprise, I had finally summed up something I’ve been vaguely trying to live and understand for a long time.  Not that I was no longer nervous, but because God is good I was determined to find the positive….

And that effort is based on some very good theology.

Of course, so is honestly acknowledging and lamenting the negative, as the Psalms show us.  This world is broken, full of sadness, pain, evil, and our own sin, and all these things are such a disaster that God sent his only Son to restore what we humans have destroyed.

Yet, even in the saddest Psalms (except for Psalm 88*) there is hope.

This hope is not an empty positivity that refuses to see sadness or pain.  Nor is it a lift-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps positive thinking philosophy, or the new age idea that you attract what you think.

Instead it’s an acknowledgement of who God is.  It’s same realization that made righteous Job put his hand on his mouth.  It’s the comfort that David had when he said,

“You, O God, are strong, and …you, O Lord, are loving.” (Psalm 62:12)

It’s the biblical conviction that,

“The Lord is upright; he is my rock and there is no wickedness in him, (Psalm 92:15)

a conviction that leads to the amazing conclusion,

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6)

So, yes, let’s weep when necessary.  Let’s not whitewash terrible brokenness.

But at the same time, let’s always remember our good, strong, loving heavenly Shepherd and, knowing him, let’s actively look for this goodness and mercy that follow us.  Let’s search for the positive in all situations, focusing on what (and Who) is honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, and worthy of praise.

After all, that only makes sense, given that we know that God loves us and that he can do everything.  He has already given the greatest sacrifice for us; won’t he take care of the other things, too?  Even if we can’t imagine how certain things could possibly have any good in them, we can be confident that God works for our good in all things, and thus we can obey the command to thank him always and for everything.

And then we can also reach out to others with the comfort God has given us.*  We can try to help each other carry the load, even as we realize how inadequate we are for this delicate task of caring, listening, and encouraging.  What’s more, we can accept comfort from those who weep with us, giving them the grace of thanks even though our smile may be wobbly and our eyes full of tears.

I pray that all of you will be given confidence in who God is and a deep understanding of his love for you so that you, too, will be encouraged to look for God’s caring hand in your situation, whatever it is.

May God bless us all.  Amen.


*Psalm 88 discusses the relationship between a person and God, but it also hints at the desperate loneliness of sufferers who are deprived of human companionship.  Let’s be there for each other!

Related articles:

The Best is Yet to Come

It’s All Good…Because God is with Us

Review: Embodied Hope by Kelly Kapic

What God Has Done for Me

This is part of a series of occasional meditations about daily life, Bible readings, and our pastor’s sermons, and is based on passages from Job, Psalms, the gospels, Romans, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, and more.

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This article may be linked to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

3 Comments

  1. Carol says:

    Well said, Annie. I get a bit tired of what you mentioned here, which is very common: ‘This hope is not an empty positivity that refuses to see sadness or pain. Nor is it a lift-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps positive thinking philosophy, or the new age idea that you attract what you think.’

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thank you, Carol.

      Yes, a biblical positive approach is very different from any of the nonbiblical approaches. It acknowledges the fact that ‘weeping may remain for a night’ but also remembers the comfort that ‘rejoicing comes in the morning’ and it turns to the Lord. (Psalm 30)

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