Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Disease Of Pessimism

Good morning my friends,

Pessimism is contagious. It is like a disease that is introduced to a healthy group, spreading from cell to cell until the body is left diseased and sickly. Pessimism robs a group of its strength and desire and it spreads quickly once it is introduced to a group. This is what Moses found himself facing as the 12 spies gave their report to the assembly.

Although these men recognized it was a good land ten of them allowed their personal fears to interfere with the instruction of God:

“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan." (Numbers 13:28-29)

God’s voice is never silenced even when facing pessimism. Caleb stood before the people and tried to rally them to the Lord’s side He told them they should attack now. But pessimism can be a strong foe, especially when there are people actively promoting it:

But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. (Numbers 13:31-32)

Why would they persist in this? Were they not there when God showed his might against Egypt? Did they completely forget the parting of the sea and the provision of the quail? A clue is found in the last verse of this chapter:

We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. (33b)

How we see ourselves is often how we assume others see us. If we think little of ourselves that is exactly the attitude we expect from others toward us. If we think we are deficient in something we expect everyone sees it the same way. Often our perspective of our self is distorted and messed up by the many filters we put in place. This is the reason we are not suppose to live our lives according to our own perspective. Often the trees are too thick for us to get a proper view of the forest. We cannot see how close we are to the lake, to shelter, to a food source. We require a much larger perspective.

The ten spies saw giants in the land. They did not take into consideration the might of God. They compared the strength of those giants to their own, leaving God out of their math. They saw themselves as weak and the enemy as mighty. Yet God’s perspective was so much greater. He looked at the land and saw a wicked people who had to be removed from creation. The wicked had built mighty kingdoms that perpetuated evil behaviour so God had planned to smash their might. His tool for this was Israel. His plan was greater than just giving Israel a land. He had promised punishment for the wicked and he was about to deliver. But he needed a people who would trust him:

The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? (Numbers 14:11)

God wanted to wipe them all out and start over with Moses but Moses did his job and interceded for Israel. Instead God decided he would raise up a new generation in a relationship of trust. He would keep them in the desert, providing for his people so they would learn trust. They would either trust him or die on their own. It worked, because the generation that entered the land with Joshua was the most faithful generation of all the generations of God’s people. Remember the instructions the Lord gave to Joshua?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Do not miss the significance of this; “Have I not commanded you?” We do not have to be concerned about how we see ourselves or of how others see us. All that we need to know is the will of the Lord. That should be our biggest concern and we should be fully occupied with knowing only that and being obedient to that will. No one questioned the weirdness of the battle of Jericho. Perhaps the tactic was a test of the obedience of this new generation. They were obedient and they had a great victory.

Let us examine or lives. Is the will of the Father the most important thing in our life? Are we set on a course of obedience to that will? Have we allowed ourselves or someone else to infect us with the disease of pessimism? Remember Paul’s plea to the Galatians:

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. (Galatians 5:7-10)

Stop looking at yourself as a grasshopper. In this past week God has shown how he lays down his plans long before the battles are upon us. Most of you know how hard we have been working to learn the new technology and to teach it to our students. Four years ago the Lord laid it on my heart to take our school in this direction. This past week I was asked to present my knowledge to the executive of our school’s association. It turns out that what we know and what we can teach others to do will go a long way in satisfying the concerns the government has about our Secondary schools. Again we will be able to continue with the curriculum we are using and Jesus Christ will remain the center of every course of study. We will be able to continue to train up our students to serve the Lord in our communities in any area of discipline he sends them into.

Our God is an amazing God. Stay the course. Do not become discouraged. His view of things is better than ours so let us trust him with all things.

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