“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters (waters of rest). He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness (in right paths) for His name’s sake.” —Psalm 23:1-3
At one of my previous jobs, my boss (who might be reading this and who I will always love dearly!) called me Positive Pollyanna.
This was not a new name for me. Growing up and through the years, I had always held a sort of “cheery” attitude. The truth is, while life of course was never perfect, everything had pretty much gone my way up until my twenties (for the most part). This changed overnight pretty dramatically (another story for another day). Something that happened to me caused me to enter into a season of questions. My innocence was taken from me in more ways than one and suddenly, I wasn’t so positive anymore. After some time, solid counsel, and wrestling with God, I found myself feeling more like myself again—my happy, carefree self.
And then, our girls were born.
“My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly trust in Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand—all other ground is sinking sand.” —Edward Mote
When asking non-Christians to describe Christians, these are some of the words I have heard. In the Church culture, it seems that we do a great job of saying, “We are all sinners and you can bring everything to God and to us and we will support you”—yet a poor job of modeling what that really looks like. We tend to put our positive pants on in front of others—almost if to say, “Hey, look how happy you will be if you follow Jesus!”
The world isn’t buying it—and, an even bigger issue—that simply isn’t the Gospel.
The Gospel says, “Come to me, ye who are weary and burdened—and I will give you rest” (Matthew 7:7).
Jesus says that in this world we will have trouble—yet, He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
You see, the Gospel as it really is preaches the reality that the brokenness of this world is very real- that trials and suffering and hard things are absolutely going to come- but that because of Christ, we can live for something (for Someone!) greater and bigger and eternally more than this world.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” —Romans 8:18
Because Jesus tells me that when my hope is placed on Him—when I am not looking to the circumstances or situations of this world to satisfy me- my Foundation is sure and my joy can be steadfast.
Not in a Positive Pollyanna way.
Not in a way that says, “Oh goody, suffering and trials and illness yet again!”
But—and hear this, dear one—also not in a way that says, “I know my God loves me enough to lift me out of this trial now. If I have the faith to believe- I know He will make them well and we will say He is good and continue on with our comfortable little life.”
If my Hope is truly based on Jesus’ blood and righteousness—if I am called to look not to things that are seen but to the things that are unseen- then it is imperative for me to grasp the reality that heaven is not here, it is there.
My joy depends on it, actually.
Psalm 23 is a well-known Psalm. It comforts us in saying that God leads us beside waters of rest and in the right paths. Yet- don’t miss this- the verses beyond that go on to say that often, these right paths and waters of rest involve valleys of deep darkness and tables prepared smack next to our enemies.
The beauty and miracle of the Gospel is not that God makes our lives easy.
It’s not that everything goes our way or that the comforts of this life abound.
The miracle of the Gospel is that in the midst of hard things, in the midst of the trial not being lifted and things not going our way and suffering being present- God is still on the throne as an Anchor for our souls, He is still getting the glory, He is still bringing good, and our peace and joy and hope can be absolutely unshaken.
Friends, may we simply pray to be a people who look upward for our satisfaction. May we long to not be positive thinkers but Jesus-trusters who find our freedom in knowing that whatever our lot, it is well with our souls.
He can be trusted.
At all times.
In all things.
To Him be the glory forever and ever Amen.