Thoughtful Thursday: Debunking Positive Thinking & other Escapes

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Job 9:25, 27-28

25My days are swifter than a runner, they speed by without seeing happiness27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaintI will change my expression and be cheerful,’ 28 I dread all my sufferings, for I know that you do not hold me blameless. 

Job 10:8-9, 15

8Your hands have shaped me and made me, but now you destroy me completely9 Remember that you have made me as with the claywill you return me to dust?  15 If I am guiltywoe to me, and if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head; I am full of shame, and satiated with my affliction.

Job 8:21

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughterand your lips with gladness.”

Psalm 27:13

“Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD’s favor in the land of the living?”

Life can deal some painful blows that do not make sense and cannot be rationalized by our human perspective.  Well-meaning people can try to either hyper-spiritualize our situation or prescribe the power of positive thinking dogma.  Others might even try to pin your current demise on the possibility of your own sin being the cause.  These solutions do not bring us out of our pain, they only serve to multiply our sufferings.

Be honest about the struggle.  It is not fun – in fact, it is often heartbreaking.  A good attitude is a great approach, and seeing things through the lens of faith a necessity, but we cannot just resort to positive thinking as our solution.  A good profession of faith in God, yes, but not just merely saying positive words or self talk which are not grounded in Scripture. Pretending won’t work, either.  Religion, too, is not our Savior.  Using Scripture or numbly trying to manipulate the results we want is also not effective and ultimately trying to bypass the heart surgery God wants to perform on our character.

We don’t like being examined so ruthlessly, put through such prodding; we would rather worship God in our comfort zone. But Christ is in the dark valleys with us.  It is there that we fellowship with Him and realize our perspective was focused on self and our deliverance – being free from the trial at hand.  Deliverance is given, but not the kind we were seeking – escaping pain or the end of hardship.  No, instead we receive the priceless gift of deliverance from self and a right focus of bringing God glory in all of the many testings life brings.

Sometimes when calamity visits our home or our life, if we are honest, we admit that the trial can create a doubting of God. He let it in.  We thought He loved us, and our definition of love evidently meant that no hardship would be allowed to encroach upon our lives.  Instead, the medicine God provides is His counsel, His comfort and His presence.  This happiness does not mean all is well.  It is choosing to trust God and delight in Him, choosing to place our hope in Him when sorrows abound.

There is a sweetness in surrendering and trusting in God when it appears that He slays us.  The profession of Job in the book of Job 13:15 was such a surrender.  Instead of looking to escape adversity, it is an opportunity that we do not want to waste.  In that place of knowing God is good and knowing that He has covered all of our sins, we begin to see that temporary hardship is not the final judgment – it is just a passing through and a refinement which will pale in comparison to the sweetest moment of all, when we are with Him for all eternity.

Lord, we are but flesh and cannot comprehend how anything good could come from pain.  Give us Your eyes and understanding.  Give us faith when life hurts.  You are our sufficiency and with us always.  Thank you, God!

9 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday: Debunking Positive Thinking & other Escapes

  1. Thank you for this post, Denise. I am printing it as something in it struck me differently than before regarding glorifying God in the end.

    Have a wonderful rest of the week!


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    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise,

    What you say is so true. Looking back over my life I can see that it was during the dark times in my life that I learned the most about myself and my relationship with the Lord. At times, it resulted in great encouragement and joy as I saw myself respond in a God-honoring way. But, sad to say, there was also many times I realized my realtionship with my Lord was not what it should be.

    May we all learn formm our dark times and allow them to bring us closer to our Lord. Another blessing, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had this conversation with a friend recently…how exactly do you send “positive thoughts”. While I know it’s just well-intentioned jargon, you are so right, nothing replaces honest dialogue with a God who knows and sees our deepest valleys before we even walk through them. A very though provoking post, Denise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Tiffany. We have become a superficial world, too busy for genuine interaction. I say this to myself, too. Trying to not just give lip service when I tell someone I am going to pray for them. God is enough, and no positive rhetoric could ever fill our empty, hurting hearts! Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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