Column: Pessimism


Have you ever noticed how easy it is to become really pessimistic? Even when good things happen, it’s easy to see the bad in everything.

For example, I’m getting married in March, and like most college students, I’m on a very tight budget — and an even tighter wedding budget. This summer I would get so caught up in the amount of money I couldn’t spend. In my opinion, everything was too expensive and I couldn’t have anything I actually wanted.

Even after God provided a reception hall, flowers, a photographer, my dress and extra funds, I still couldn’t get past the amount. I was being so pessimistic about everything that nothing seemed good enough for me.

Similarly, it’s easy to be really pessimistic about dorm life. Some days, we may come out of our rooms wishing we didn’t have to live with other people. But, having to share a room gives us the opportunity to minister to others, learn to live with someone else, develop good habits (like making our beds and cleaning the sink) and make life-long friends. Dorm life is a great character builder, but we miss it when all we can focus on are the occasional discouraging things that happen.

Almost everyone struggles with pessimism when it comes to college. We may think some classes are too hard or that our teachers ask a lot of us, and we may not get as much sleep as we’d like.  But, college is great for us! Everything we do here is challenging our potential and preparing us for the future. Why not focus on the final outcome of our education instead of the frustrating moments that come before that end?

Part of our sin nature is to be angry and pessimistic about everything. It’s called walking in the flesh, and it’s really easy to do. Thankfully, God has called us out of our sin and has given us His Spirit to guide us in everything — even in being optimistic.

God also calls us to rejoice in Him always, even when things go very wrong. Instead of focusing on the expense of weddings, the difficult math homework or roommates who are different from us, we can be thankful that God has given us what we need exactly when we need it. Even when things get really tough and more things go wrong than “right,” God has a perfect plan, and we don’t have to see the bad in it, because everything He does is good.