Sunday Note – Why do optimists live longer? Trusting God when it’s hard to trust God!

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Sunday Note – Why do optimists live longer? Trusting God when it’s hard to trust God!

Here’s some good news: to live longer, focus on good news in the news. My readers know I’m a big fan of Jim Denison, PhD, who is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. In fact, I read his blog almost daily. Here’s an excerpt from one of his recent blogs that is one of my favorites:

Why do optimists live longer?

A study now being reported by the Washington Post notes that people with the highest levels of optimism enjoyed a life span between 11 and 15 percent longer than those who were the least optimistic.

Research links optimism to:

  • eating a healthy diet,
  • staying physically active, and
  • being less likely to smoke cigarettes.

Optimists also tend to manage stress in healthy ways.

In addition, since studies clearly link religious commitment with a more optimistic outlook, you and I should be especially positioned to benefit from such positivism even in challenging times.

But as I have learned personally, trust in God does not guarantee optimism, especially when God does not do what we are trusting him to do.

Trusting God when it’s hard to trust God!

Why I am disappointed with God

I underwent four-level spinal fusion surgery on July 1. I will be limited in activities and mobility for the next several weeks; full recovery is expected to take nine months to a year. … I am disappointed to be in this position today.

I first injured my back eight years ago. For eight years, as my condition deteriorated, I prayed for God to heal me using medical or even miraculous means. I have witnessed such healings in my personal ministry over the years, so I asked the Lord to do for me what I know he has done for many others in Scripture and in our world today.

But he did not give me the answer for which I prayed.

How do we trust God when He doesn’t do what we’re trusting him to do?

Each of us experiences disappointment with God on occasion; only the most naïve would expect the Lord to give them everything they ask for every time they ask for it.

However, when a true challenge arises and God does not give us what we ask, our faith can be shaken to its foundations.

We can question whether God is who the Bible and the Christian faith claim him to be.

For example, responding to his wife’s death to cancer, C. S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, “The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”

Or we can question whether we are who the Bible and the Christian faith claim us to be. Scripture teaches that Christians are the children of God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), that there is nothing we can do to earn or forfeit his compassion and love.

Why, then, has God not done for us what we know he has done for others?

“Has God forgotten to be gracious?”

You are either where I am today or afraid you will be one day.

So, I’ll close with reflections on a biblical text that has greatly encouraged me over the past week in hopes it will help you as well.

I believe that God redeems all he allows.

As a result, I know he is redeeming my back surgery for a greater good than would have been the case if he had healed me prior to surgery.

However, I have no biblical assurance that I will understand this “greater good” on this side of heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12). But I do understand two practical principles from Psalm 77:

One: It is normal in hard times to question our faith.

The writer testifies, “I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (v. 4) and asks of the Lord, “Has his steadfast love forever ceased? . . . Has God forgotten to be gracious?” (vv. 8–9).

Jesus similarly cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, echoing Psalm 22:1; cf. Isaiah 1:18).

Two: On the hard days, remember the good days.

The psalmist pivots from his present questions to his previous experience: “I will remember the deeds of the Lᴏʀᴅ; yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11).

He proceeds to list God’s “mighty deeds” in creation and Jewish history (vv. 12–20).

In light of all God has done, the psalmist finds the strength to trust God for all he will do.

The faith to have faith

This week, I have been reflecting on the many ways my Lord has previously demonstrated his omnipotent love in my life.

I believe that my unchanging Father (Malachi 3:6) loves me as much as on the day he sent his Son to die on my cross to pay for my eternal salvation.

As a result, I am trusting that when his “ways” are not my “ways,” this is only because they are “higher than [my] ways” (Isaiah 55:9).

And I am asking God for the faith to have faith where I need faith most (Mark 9:24).

I invite you to join me today, to the glory of God.

NOTE: For more theological help with this subject, see Jim’s book, Making Sense of Suffering. And, for encouragement to trust each day to our Lord, please see one of Jim’s personal blogs, “How a former Navy SEAL begins his day.”

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2022. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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