I’ve often been known for pointing out that positive and successful people focus on what they can do, rather than on what they can’t. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t ever see risks or take a cautious approach. However, it is all too easy to focus on what cannot be done and to thereby stifle the very action that stimulates progress or that catalyses change. Hopeless pessimism that stagnates must surely give way to hope-filled realism about what cannot be done to find optimism in what can be done. Hope is the upside of adversity, and right belief and purposeful action will translate that hope into progress.
Another way of saying this is to use the words of Hebrews 11:1, which states that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. What we hope for needs to be rightly motivated and then our godly belief is our surety that our hopes will be realised, even when they have not yet materialised before our eyes. But that faith needs action to demonstrate our belief, so that hope is not aimless or presumptuous.
Realism can sometimes find a philosophical, even theological, contentment in suffering. However, hope makes the difference in taking us from restless helplessness to restful faith in which we pursue God’s will and His outcomes with contentment. Our own preferences apart from Him are not the driver of our happiness. We avoid agitated discontent or reckless ambition when we maintain God-inspired action that flows from a genuine sense that He is in control. Come what may, my prayer needs to be, “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God the Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).