Friday, January 1, 2010

Optimism vs Hope

optimism noun
an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome

hope noun
a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment; someone or something on which hopes are centered

(Definitions from Merriam Webster Online)

Time Magazine called the last ten years the decade from hell, and gave plenty of supporting evidence for the title. To tell you the truth, I'm not too optimistic about the decade ahead being significantly better than the past one -- or even the new year for that matter. But I am hopeful!

I am by nature an optimist; I see the bright side and not the dark side of most situations. But sometimes optimism is not enough. Certainly it is not adequate when facing life in our uncertain times. If it is just my cheery disposition or my thinking good thoughts, I am going to be anxious and easily shaken as soon as the next crisis comes along. I will be dependent upon circumstances for my happiness, and circumstances are so fickle.

The difference between optimism and hope is that hope is based upon something or someone whereas optimism is not. I choose to place my hope in God, the only constant in our ever-changing world.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
For God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8

I am choosing Romans 12:12 as my verse for 2010: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. When our hope is in the faithful God, we can be joyful. He is in charge and He does all things well. That's reason enough to be joyful in hope. And as for being patient in affliction and faithful in prayer, opportunities abound to practice these virtues as well!

And this is my prayer for you, my friends:

May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Happy New Year!

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