Today’s reading is a beautiful illustration of what we learned Sunday. Let me summarize some thoughts first.
There are two types of people—optimists and pessimists. Almost every pessimist tries to improve their image by saying they are a realist, but this begs the question: As an optimist, am I not grounded in reality? Sure, some optimists may have “pie in the sky” ideas, but we usually call them idealists. No, there are two types of people and you are either an optimist or a realist.
The thing about optimists is they project a future condition based on the statistical probability, whether calculated or visceral. They take the same information available to a pessimist but they organize the details into a picture of wholeness. Both perspectives are based on facts of circumstance. The real rub between optimists and pessimists is the perceived control or resigned fatalism regarding your circumstance.
It would be entertaining to see an optimist wrestle with Joshua 2:10-11:
For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you:
So what about Rahab? Was she an optimist? Remember an optimist takes fragmented possibilities and composes a glowing result. The best an optimist in Jericho could do would be to hope Israel went away! Based on this verse there was a slim to none chance for anything positive. Rahab was not calculating the odds. She completely knew the odds—certain destruction! When you read her monologue regarding her observation of Israel’s God, there wasn’t optimism or pessimism. There was hope! Look at the end of Joshua 2:11 and following:
The Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house…and deliver our lives from death.
Do you see what hope does? It isn’t based on the circumstances. Hope throws its arms around the character of God. All Rahab knew is a God whose love for His people caused him to part oceans and vanquish enemies, with a love so powerful, maybe she could implore through humility to receive that same love. When the rest of her people saw God as vindictive, she saw Him as valiant. When they saw His conquest, she saw His compassion.
Hope is not optimism. It is not a hand-wringing worry either. True hope rests in the identity of God. Healthy hope comprehends the faithfulness of God and his unwavering consistency. Statistical probabilities are unnecessary. God’s sovereignty increases the “odds” to definite according to His plan.
Forget being an optimist. “Hope in God” (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)!