Sarcasm is the preferred flavor of language in our society today. Anyone watch the television show House? Hugh Laurie's biting remarks and general disdain for those he deems idiots (which turns out to be most of the people he comes into contact with)--it's hilarious! How about Scrubs? I mean, really, who doesn't love Dr. Cox? And I know that everyone in my household laughs at the snide remarks made by Frank from Everybody Loves Raymond.
Still, our attraction to this kind of humor causes me to wonder. Because life is not a television show. Those same comments that we laugh about on the screen would be hurtful if they were directed at us in real life. And the bitter attitudes the characters possess are harmful when we possess them ourselves.
Yet, we take on that cynic mentality. At least, I know I do. To be optimistic is to be naive, shallow, out of tune with "the way things really are." Optimism is for those who are not strong enough to face the facts. The world is cold, harsh, unforgiving. We may as well expect the worst.
But I discovered something, almost two years ago now. I discovered that it is the optimists, not the cynics, who are the strong ones. After this revelation, I made a pledge to abandon cynicism. Two years later, I'm still struggling to get there (noticed the title of this blog lately?). But in the summer of 2009, I was inspired to write the following, and it remains an encouragement to me today:
Sure, it's dangerous abandoning cynicism for the life of the optimist. You're forsaking reality for idealism, giving up your protective shell and allowing yourself to become vulnerable. And in that moment when someone disappoints you, you will feel such pain, and you'll remember why you were so afraid to believe in them. But the truth behind it all is that there is a God who never fails, and He is urging us to have a little faith. Faith in Him, yes of course. But it extends deeper than that. It is a faith that all things really do work out for good. It is a faith that believes God can change people and use them for glory. It is a faith that believes in people as God believes in them, that sees His Spirit in His children and prepares to witness the impossible. And when people fail, there is not judgment or bitterness, but encouragement. This faith is not a feeble hope, but a hope that expects. And the cynical would call such faith naïve foolishness, because they are afraid of the pain of disappointment. So they retreat in misery, blocking out and numbing themselves to that pain, perhaps with the idea that they will wait for a world better than this one, and thus miss the opportunity to bring the hope of heaven to an earth that so desperately needs it. And it is true that the optimist, the dreamer, the believer, will experience much greater disappointment that the cynics, for they hope much while we live in a world that is yet broken. But we press on, pushing aside all fear of failure. Because our hope is in a greater reality, one in which disappointment does not exist. And any pain, any failure, in this world is overshadowed by the truth of God’s goodness, the plan He has in store, and the victory already won. So take the risk. Believe the impossible. Never give up hope. It is so much more than worth it.