Would you describe yourself as a “half-empty” or a “half-full” type of person? Do you tend to initially see the negative features of a situation, or do you tend to immediately see the possibilities in a more positive light?
I’m more of the half-empty type of guy. I don’t naturally respond in faith, but quickly note the difficulties. I’m kind of like Philip who couldn’t see how a few fish and some bread could feed thousands of people.
It takes me a while to remember that God has a solution to the situation that confronts me. My first response is not, “God is going to turn this into an adventure and show me His power and wisdom.” I wish that were my normal reaction, but it’s not. Probably like many of you, I have to work at trusting God.
You never see a pessimistic response from the Lord. Key was that His will always was submitted to the Father, as He said in the Garden, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” He always trusted His heavenly Father implicitly.
Far less perfect than the Lord, but still “quicker to faith” than me, the Apostle Paul seemed to focus more on the silver lining than on the storm clouds. A perfect example is when he was under house arrest in Rome.
He had arrived in Rome as a prisoner. While in Israel, he had been falsely accused of a religious crime. Rather than standing before a prejudiced court of Jewish leaders in Israel, as a Roman citizen, he appealed to stand court in Rome.
Once he arrived in Rome, Paul was placed under house arrest. He didn’t throw himself a pity party or waste any energy complaining that God had removed him from active church planting. Rather than focusing on the restrictions to his life, he spent his time writing the letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
Paul also used his opportunities to share the Gospel with the soldiers assigned to guard him. He did not have a “half-empty” attitude toward having soldiers in his apartment every day. His outlook was “half-full” that the soldiers were actually his prisoners, and could not escape his witness while they watched him. He said as much in his letter to the Philippians.
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Philippians 1:12–14)
What can we learn from Paul? Rather than bemoan our hardships, we are to ask the Lord for eyes to see the opportunities we have to serve Him. Just as the soldiers may never have heard the Good News of Jesus if Paul hadn’t been arrested, God may have arranged your circumstances and mine for another believer to be encouraged or a lost person to hear the Gospel that Jesus came to rescue him or her.