When it’s Hard to Be Optimistic

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“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

James 4:15

My friend (let’s call him Adam) is living with a terminal diagnosis. The doctors say, barring a miracle, Adam has just months to live. His lungs are badly sick and his breathing is becoming more and more difficult by the day.

Because of his faith in Jesus, Adam is not afraid to die. He believes that when he breathes his last breath on earth, he will be at home with the Lord. But until his time comes, Adam is still making plans for tomorrow.

The other day when I stopped by to visit him, I found Adam at his kitchen table sorting through packets of seeds that had just arrived in the mail. He was reading the labels and taking inventory – green beans, sweetcorn, various types of squash, cucumbers – all his favorites.

Later, it struck me as beautiful that in spite of Adam’s sobering prognosis, he is planning and preparing for a garden this year. Though he doesn’t know exactly how things are going to play out with his health, he is still getting out of bed every morning and proceeding with each day that God grants him.

I love that about Adam.

It is hard to plan when life is uncertain, isn’t it? It is difficult to imagine and envision future growth when you are in the middle of troubling and unpredictable circumstances, kind of like those we find ourselves in presently.

But maybe we should take a cue from Adam and proceed with planning and preparing for a garden anyway. By faith, maybe we should go ahead and live today as if we’ll be around tomorrow, and the day after that.

The Apostle Paul planned like this. Though he lived and served in extremely volatile times, he was always projecting his aspirations for the future. In Romans 15, for example, he describes his plans for a missional garden, if you will, that would extend to what at that time was a far-flung destination. He says,

I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome…” -Romans 15:24 

Yet, it is questionable as to whether the trip to Spain ever happened for Paul. He sure wanted to go there with the gospel of Jesus, but it is unclear as to whether Paul actually made it before he died. Of course, he did make it to Rome, but not in the way he planned. He went there as a prisoner.

Like us, Paul – though godly and empowered by the Spirit – did not know specifically what the future held for him. But that did not keep him from making plans for a garden, if you will. We appreciate his example because he did not allow the uncertainty of his times to keep him from being optimistic about future possibilities. It was the certainty of the gospel and the faithfulness of Jesus that fueled his optimism.

Both Adam and Paul remind us that it is good to make plans even when planning is hard. The bottom line is that if the Lord wills, our plans will come to pass.

I am hopeful for my friend Adam and his garden. But either way, on this side or the other, he will have his garden.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

One thought on “When it’s Hard to Be Optimistic

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