Wait. Shouldn’t the title of this post be ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’? If you were looking for the any popular self-help book, then yes – probably so. We often hear the message to “just be more positive”. Whether its a well-meaning friend offering advice, a tender-hearted picture that’s gone viral on Facebook, or something you heard from a pop-culture Christian pastor we are constantly asked to ascribe to the power of positive thinking.
If you objectively consider the evidence, you’ll find positive thinking isn’t so powerful.
I don’t want to be a curmudgeon (really, I don’t!) but I have been heartbroken by people, even fellow Christians, placing their hope in such a flimsy thing as the power of positive thinking.
Do you realize how fragile positive thinking can be?
Imagine your perfect day. You’ve got the day off of work, so you sleep in until you’re ready to get out of bed. When you draw back your bedroom curtains, the sun is streaming through the window. “It’s going to be a great day!” you say. You decide to treat yourself to this morning and eat at your favorite breakfast place. When it comes time to pay, you discover a total stranger paid for your meal as a random act of kindness. How cool is that!? As you drive around town, traffic is basically nonexistent and there isn’t a red-light in sight. You’re having such an awesome day, it starts to rub off on other people. The cashier at the grocery store tells you it made his day to see such a happy person go through his line. You run into an old friend at the gas station, and she says you’re looking amazing and must have lost some weight. Then, in the middle of your positive thinking day, you get a phone call. It’s your neighbor. She tells you that your dog – your sweet Boston terrier – was hit by a car. You drop everything and rush home. Only thinking about making it home to be with your puppy, you speed through a construction zone and get a nail stuck in your tire. By the time you roll into your driveway, the tire is completely flat. Sadly, you didn’t make it in time to tell your puppy goodbye. Needless to say, your day has been ruined.
What happened to all that positive thinking?
Positive thinking isn’t lasting. It is shockingly flimsy. It comes and goes. You may have constructed an amazing set of circumstances around yourself, even deciding to not be influenced by negativity but what happens when your circumstances are interrupted by happenings outside of your control? We can’t deny that events occur outside of our control. If positive thinking were powerful, outside events wouldn’t interfere with the effects of a happy-go-lucky outlook on life. Maybe the solution is to think more positively, which is the second problem with positive thinking.
Positive thinking isn’t a long term solution. Like in example above, how would you rebound from the unexpected and not-so-positive twist in your day? Would you just keep thinking positively? What if more bad things happened? Would you think even more positively? The method eventually breaks down. Positive thinking isn’t a sustainable solution because “more of it” doesn’t fix your problems. If you’re down in the dumps and your only hope of feeling better again is to keep thinking positively, is positive thinking really a viable solution?
Positive thinking is folly.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not.
The Gospel was purchased and secured with the blood of God’s own Son – a “currency” if you will that never fails, lasts forever, and proved to be stronger than the grave. Pastor Jerry Bridges says we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves daily. More Gospel is just as life-changing and effective as the day we first believed. Grace has no brakes. The authority and power of the Gospel doesn’t depend on our insufficiency, but Christ’s sufficiency. Jesus didn’t merely secure a new way of thinking on the cross, he secured a new way of living – a new life entire. He secured the ability for Christians to stare suffering in face and rejoice to share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13). He restored the broken relationship between created and Creator. Those who hope in Christ will not be put to shame (Romans 5:5). That’s powerful.
Have you ascribed to the power of positive thinking, only to be disappointing? Have you experienced the power of the Gospel in your life? Tell us about it!