If you have ever looked at life with a pessimistic perspective, you are not alone. And let’s be honest, pessimism can be dangerous. Looking at life and its challenges as a burden and being suppressive fuels negativity, and negative mindsets may even propose the idea that God could be out to get us when trials come our way. In fact, it has been said by some that either you are in a trial now, you’ve just come out of a trial, or you’re getting ready to go into a trial. Yet this doesn’t need to be negative, and it is often life’s trials that build us and make us stronger.
When I was in my mid and late teenage years, I thought life was amazing and was completely optimistic about the world ahead. Life was exciting. I graduated college a few years early, walked off campus with a 4.0 GPA, and was already engaged to be married. I was moving halfway across the country, had plans for a business endeavor, and I was excited everything was happening so fast. I was thankful to God for all He had done, for the doors He had opened for me and seeing how He had already provided, I was optimistic about the next chapter of my life. Then life happened.
My optimism began to fade as I saw how the world really worked and experienced personally how dishonorable people can be. After thinking we all had each other’s back, feelings of betrayal set in when friends, family, and colleagues quickly deserted and used me and others for personal benefit. I saw how greed and money came as a higher priority than human life for some. I went through the financial struggles of building a business in a challenging financial and social environment. Getting married before I was 20 came with a lot of naysayers who said it would never work, throwing statistics our way, saying the odds were against us. Attempting to juggle business and family was difficult, where my income came from the effort I put in. My optimism rapidly changed to pessimism, and I started viewing the world from a negative perspective rather than a positive one. Then I got a redirect.
One evening I was sitting outside with a close friend. I felt discouraged. I took the opportunity to vent my feelings, frustrations, and reflect back on all the naysayers. My friend listened intently, then paused me. “Skyler, I love this life. Life is amazing, life is a gift. Speak words into existence.” That was a game changer for me. I had let my guard down; I let the pessimistic people and attitudes into my life and influence my mind, heart, and thoughts. An idea came to mind, you are what you think. If I let unchecked and negative thoughts simmer in my mind, that will determine not just how I live my life and view the world, but my perspective on God’s plan for my life as well. Contrary, if I intentionally postulated optimistic thoughts and dwell on those during trials and sought God through prayer, I would internalize it, believe it, and live it. The beautiful consequence was, that is what happened.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). I took my pains, burdens, and pessimism to God, and He answered. This also gave me to the opportunity to reflect back on all that God had done for me. With His blessing, I had built a successful business, I had a successful and wonderful marriage, and He had been using me to influence others for His good.
The Apostle Paul had just a legitimate reason as anyone else for negativity. He recounts in 2 Corinthians 11: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (23-28). Two chapters over Paul concludes, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).
“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Let this be our motto, our word of encouragement from God. Hard times will come, for as James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Life is a workout, and trials are a means to that. Tony Evans wrote regarding trials: “But even though we all have to experience them, you can take comfort in knowing that trials must first pass through God’s hands before reaching us. Nothing comes our way without first having received His divine approval. And if a trial is to receive His divine approval, He must have a Divine reason to approve it. We need to trust that God has our best interests in mind when He allows us to experience trials.” We should reflect on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). By intentionally pushing out the negativity and focusing on the positive, we will internalize it, believe it, and live it. Speak words into existence.