Nah, That’s Too Easy

People who remain positive in the face of terrible circumstances impress me. A former coworker of mine grew up in the housing projects of a big city, lived in constant fear, and was chased and beaten up nearly everyday after school. And I’ve never worked with a more positive, upbeat person in my life. How can that be? Maybe the alternative was just too easy.
My best friend in high school was continually optimistic, to the point of annoying me; I wanted to whine and gripe and focus on the negative aspects of life. I asked him one day, “How come you never get down and complain about the bad things that happen to you and other people in the world?” He just shook his head and said, “Nah, that’s too easy.” Boy, did I admire him for that answer. I had always assumed he was oblivious to the pain and suffering in the world, but his response revealed something different. He knew very well why he should feel down and discouraged, but he wouldn’t allow it. He remained upbeat even when life gave him little reason to smile and treat people kindly.
Although my outlook is now more positive, I still struggle to come anywhere close to the optimism of my friend and former coworker. This truth causes me a little pain and shame since I belong to Jesus and should feel happy and hopeful all the time. Right? Well, David was a man after God’s heart and he said things like this: “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (Psalm 6:3, 6). To struggle and deal with a sense of despair is normal. But I don’t want it to shape my life, and I suspect you don’t either.
Maybe God’s Word can help us focus on the positive, and even experience His peace: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
If that sounds like a tall order, do it anyway. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. And if people ask you why you never get down and complain about the bad things that happen to you and other people in the world, just shake your head and say, “Nah, that’s too easy.”
Troy Burns