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It Can’t Possibly Get Worse

There’s an old Jewish joke that goes like this:

What’s the difference between a pessimist and an optimist?

The pessimist says, “It can’t possibly get any worse than this.”

The optimist says, “Of course it can!”

As an incurable optimist, I’ve thought about that joke quite a bit over the last week. Just a week ago, the WHO declared coronavirus a global pandemic, and at that time I could never have imagined how different our lives would be just one week later.

I’ve maintained that optimistic outlook precisely because I see it repeatedly in the psalms.

Choose just about any psalm of lament and you’ll find David complaining and expressing his frustration with God, but by the time you reach the end he is confident and optimistic that everything will work out.

So while there is much to lament these days when just about everything I love has been cancelled, I am trying to follow the example of David when he declared,

“I will bless the LORD at all times. His praise will continually be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)

In the spirit of that verse, I made of list of some of the positives things that may come out of this global pandemic, things for which we can all be thankful:

  • We’ll spend more time with our families, the most important people in our lives. There will be time to slow down and do the things that we didn’t think we had time for. For me that means two words: board games!
  • We’ll be forced to slow our pace of life a bit and that can give us the opportunity to go deeper in our faith—a forced but much needed Sabbath in our hurried culture.
  • We’ll gain greater appreciation of others and more eagerly desire the presence of our friends and faith community. Online church was great last Sunday, but it’s going to make the day when we can worship together again in one place all the more sweet.
  • There will (hopefully) be less obsession with politics and the presidential election as if it were the most important thing in the world, and instead we’ll hear stories of sacrifice, goodness, and faith changing the world for the better.
  • We’ll clean out our closets and get some of those things done that we’ve been putting off for years. That will feel good.
  • Instead of consuming endless hours of entertainment, we’ll become creators again, like when we were little kids. We’ll write songs and stories. We’ll make things of beauty and value and blessing to others. We’ll rediscover the joy of creativity and no longer be satisfied with merely being consumers of the creativity of others.
  • In the future, we’ll all take Dave Ramsey’s baby steps more seriously and make sure that we have an emergency fund of three to six month’s salary. That includes businesses and churches.
  • People will develop better habits of personal hygiene (OK, I said I was an optimist).

I’m just getting started. Now it’s your turn.

(For more from Matt, check out mattstaffordpsalms.com. Used with permission. )

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