Summary: How can you be hopeful,joyful, enthusiastic, in a world and life full of problems? Here you find the answer...
Romans 8:18-25: THE SECRET TO BEING A POSITIVE THINKER
Have you ever heard someone say, “You should think more positively. You should be a positive thinker.” Sometimes that’s easy. Sometimes, it’s not.
For example, think about the flooding in Texas. I read about one man down there, whose house had been destroyed by a flood four years ago. Now, his house has been destroyed again. What do you think would happen is you would walk up to him and say to him, “Don’t worry. Just think positive.” What do you think he’d say? He’d probably say something like, “You know, I thought that way four years ago. I thought positive. I rebuilt my house. But it didn’t work. Things will get better. But look at my house now – it’s ruined.
There’s a huge fire going on in Quebec, Canada. Thousands of acres are being burned, and there’s so much smoke that it’s stretching down to Washington DC. Imagine seeing that fire edge closer and closer to your home, and someone walks up to you and says, “Don’t worry, just think positive.” Would that make you feel better? Will thinking positive thoughts keep the fire from destroying your home?
A few years ago, a friend of mine and I were training for a marathon. Yes, it’s true, I was actually going to run a marathon. One day I felt a twinge in my foot, something was wrong. There was some pain. “Just think positive,” someone told me. After going to various doctors and therapists, trying different forms of rehab, it’s still hard for me to run. I can walk. But playing basketball – anything to do with running for an extended period of time – I can’t do it. Thinking positive thoughts did not make my foot better.
What happens when you think positive, and things don’t work out? You can become cynical and negative. You can become someone who is always complaining, who is always down. It’s good to be a positive thinker. But how do you do it? How can you be a positive thinker when things are always going wrong in the world, and in your own life? What’s the secret?
Today, we’re going to discuss the secret to being a positive thinker. In Romans chapter 8, the Apostle Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, writes to a group of Christians living in Rome. These people in Rome were experiencing some of the same difficulties you face today. Paul wanted to give them hope, to give them a real reason to be joyful and upbeat and positive, and so he wrote these words that we are going to be looking at today. May God bless you as you listen, as you ponder the secret to being a positive thinker.
There are actually two secrets. Secret number one, is that you don’t get caught up in the “here and now.” Look at verse 22: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth up to the present time.” Nature is groaning – nature is pictured as a woman in labor. Imagine that you were having a baby, and that you were experiencing eight hours of painful labor. As you were going through that labor, what would your attitude be? Would you be caught up in the “here and now”? Or would you be looking forward to the future? You wouldn’t be caught up in the “here and now.” The “here and now” is painful and tiring. Our world, nature, is like a woman in labor – “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth up to the present time.” Nature has been in labor for thousands of years.
It all began when Adam and Eve fell into sin. Verse 20 tells us that “The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it.” Plants, animals, fish, birds, anything in creation - all those things subjected to frustration. When sin entered the world, it not only ruined mankind, it also ruined nature. Animals and plants and everything else in nature was supposed to glorify God. Everything was supposed to be perfectly peaceful.
But that’s not how it is. There are torrential rains in Texas. There are fires out west and in Canada. There’s pollution. Certain animals are becoming extinct. Trees and plants are catching diseases. These are the sounds of nature groaning. Nature can be beautiful, at times, but it’s also a place of death and decay. Nature is pictured as a person in the Bible, frustrated, because it can’t glorify God the way it wants to. Creation is also pictured as someone in labor – not focusing on the here and now, because the here and now is frustrating and painful.