I was watching one of my favorite movies the other night – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – wherein a main character expresses his belief that, “Everything will be alright in the end…so if it is not alright, it is not yet the end.” Similar sayings are thrown out all the time at church, “Faith in God includes faith in His timing,” or “This too shall pass.”
As I am not naturally inclined towards faith or optimism, when i hear quotes like this I often think, “Yeah, well there’s a nice little saying that’s impossible to argue with.”
The Faithful Optimist: Oh you have problems? Oh you’re not getting answers? Oh praying and reading your scriptures and going to church aren’t providing the blessings you’ve always been told they would? Well…endure to the end! You just have to wait.
The Realistic (Pessimistic) Person with Problems: I have waited and I keep trying, I just haven’t seen or felt any indication that God exists, let alone felt God’s support in my life.
The Faithful Optimist: God’s timing sometimes requires a lot of waiting…you know the saying, “They never said it would be easy, they only said it would be worth it.”
Discussion over. Realistic (Pessimistic) Persons with Problems can never win this argument! The only way a conclusion can be drawn about what is good, right and true is if the answer or result the Faithful Optimist expects comes. If it doesn’t, then the conclusion is that more waiting is required. If you already claim to know what answer or result will come, if you don’t believe there is even the possibility that problems won’t be resolved or answers won’t come, then really at heart you’re already a Faithful Optimist, not a Realistic (Pessimistic) Person with Problems.
So I wonder if there are Persistent People Who Wait, the Realistic (Pessimistic) Persons with Problems who aren’t overtaken by their problems and pessimism but keep patience and hope alive….if these people exist and if they wait, and wait, and wait….all the way to their deathbeds and then finally think, “All this time I thought I was just waiting but now I’m out of time. Apparently everything I was ever told wasn’t true. Belief in God’s timing and waiting and enduring was really just blind faith and ignorant optimism. Things don’t work out, God doesn’t exist!”
And when I carry out that train of thought to that extreme I suppose there could even be a whole lot of Really Persistent People Who Wait, along with the Faithful Optimists, who maintain hope and belief right up till they die, only to stay very dead and never realize their dreams of eternal life.
Well…so what? Were those people worse off because they believed things would work out? I don’t think so. Maybe it could be argued that their’s is just a case of simple people living in the bliss of ignorance – but is bliss so bad? Especially compared with an alternative like “life sucks and then you die?”
I have recently joined the ranks of the Faithful Optimists (well, am in the process of slowly learning how these people think) and as irritating as I find it, I really can’t see any downside to this philosophy. I believe things will work out, that hard things accrue to my benefit. This belief helps motivate me to keep trying and to seek the Lord’s help. It is what allows me to appreciate progress that is made and believe continued progress and positive days are ahead. Really it gives me hope.
Even on the days where I wonder, where I discount the positive and the good, where I start comparing the years of misery to more recent, mere months of contentment, I can’t help but recognize the rationality of hope and optimism.