I know pessimism.
I find myself surrounded by pessimistic people.
Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to be much more optimistic than pessimistic.
I am not naming names but I have a couple of family members who feel the American economic system is going “down the tubes.” They advocate the purchase of precious commodities like silver and gold because “when it all goes down” that will be the only way to get anything. The dollar will be worthless.
One family member takes it further; he has an attitude that it is important to stockpile weapons and ammunition to defend his home from roving intruders who will be coming after his stores.
Another family member has a lot of worry. This person has a hard time celebrating life because all they see are problems. Sometimes this person has a hard time getting started on projects because of all the trouble that can be seen down the road.
The list goes on and on. Literally. Not only do I have family members but I have friends who bemoan society and how it used to be so good in the past. People just don’t know how to live today.
Gloom, despair, and agony on me: some of you may remember the old “Hee Haw” television show and the lyrics of the song.
“Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me.”
We are talking pessimism. There has been a lot written on this outlook on life so I am just going to scratch the surface on the subject. It is the idea that things are not going well, the future is dim and life is full of problems.
Some people have just developed this outlook on life. Accuse them of being too negative and they will tell you, “You just are not realistic” or “my way of thinking is the best because I can see problems before they come” or they accuse you of being “Pollyanna.”
How does this play into Dr. Willard’s book on Hearing God?
He feels that pessimistic people probably don’t feel that God has talked to them and He won’t be talking to them.
Let’s look at what these people may say.
1.”God won’t talk to me. I am just a “run-of-the-mill” human. Why would the Divine God single me out to receive His messages?” This statement is probably typical of pessimistic people. Pessimists may see themselves as less deserving of attention and not extraordinary. It is asking too much for God to speak to lowly me.
- “God does not speak to me.” This is the denial that God can really speak directly to humans in general. I had a very good friend who had counseling from a pastor. This person was having a hard time in life and was struggling to find God. I remember the pastor telling them one day “What do you want God to do? Erect you a billboard!” Dr. Willard will be explaining the view that God does speak to us directly. The fact that we don’t notice it does not mean it does not happen.
- “God cannot speak to me” is a slightly different negative statement. This is denying the power of God. I am going out on a limb here. If God wants to speak to you, He will. You don’t control God. Maybe the pessimistic person wants their way to be validated so much that they are willing to put attributes on God. In my way of thinking, that is dangerous. We should not do that; it is not our job.
4.”God should not communicate with me.” This last statement says that it is not proper to communicate with me. God is in His place and I am in mine. God is supposed to do certain things and there is some protocol in His behavior that limits His activities. Somehow the pessimistic person thinks that God communicating to humans denigrates God. Really?
Chapter 3 is Dr. Willard refuting these four negative outlooks and in yesterday’s post entitled “Hard Hat” I wrote that he will be getting into some heavy duty discussion. I will do my best to comment on his four refutations and faithfully represent his thought.
I am putting on my hard hat.
Being an optimist and surrounded by pessimists, I find I have to do that every day.