I'm not an optimist.
But I'm not a pessimist, either.
Some people see the glass as half full. Some see the glass as half empty. All I know is that if it's 8 or 9 in the morning, and there's only half a cup of coffee, then somebody is most likely gonna get hurt...and it's probably going to be whoever drank half my coffee.
I'm a realist, which some optimists like to say is the same thing as being a pessimist, but they're wrong. A pessimist looks at the bad side of things, and while I do that sometimes, usually I try to see a situation as it really is. And if you really start thinking about it, Jesus was probably a realist, too.
The difference between Jesus and me is that Jesus was focused on others, while I tend to be focused on myself. I do think about others, but to be honest, it's in a way that reflects back on myself. I count my blessings, thankful that I'm healthier than others or that I'm better off than others, or that, through grace, I was spared a lot of pain that others are having to experience. And when I do think about others, it's limited by my own understanding, so I'm often not seeing people as people, but I'm seeing them as labels. I'm not seeing a man who God loves, I'm seeing a homeless man who needs to be pitied. I'm not seeing a woman whom God is using, I'm seeing a helpless widow. And it's not bad to want to help people who need to be helped, but there seems something wrong about seeing labels where people should be.
Jesus saw people. He saw a woman at a well. He didn't overlook her sin, yet he didn't label her by it. And because He saw her, she was changed. Jesus saw a rich man. He looked at him and loved him. But this man defined himself by his riches, instead of seeing himself as he was--as Jesus saw him--a man in need of grace. And he went away sad.
And right now I'm seeing friends who are seriously ill. I'm seeing friends going through divorces. I'm seeing friends who are going through financial problems and emotional turmoil. I'm seeing friends who are without Christ, who are striving to find fulfillment in themselves. And I pray for all of these people, asking for change and healing and grace.
Hope is a difficult thing sometimes. Realistically, it seems as though I keep asking for the same things, the same healing, the same changes. And honestly, I'm not sure if any of these things I'm hoping for in the lives of others are going to come to pass.
But I've been reminded recently that love always hopes. And if I'm to see people as they are, if I'm to love them, then part of that involves hope. I'm not an optimist, but if I really care about people, then I'm going to keep hoping on their behalf. And I'm going to believe that my prayers are heard.