I once knew a homeless man named Bill. Bill and I would go out to lunch frequently and I would ask him about his life on the streets. He seemed to have a certain contentment and happiness despite his circumstances. Each time we met, Bill would tell me the key to contentment is to focus on the positive. He said, “If you focus on the negative, then you’ll be negative, but if you focus on the positive, you’ll be positive.” Bill’s teaching has stuck with me all these years, and now I hope to pass it on to you, my child.
This paradigm of positivity is infectious and can inspire deep joy amidst mundane and even “negative” moments in life. As Christians, we are called to set our minds “on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2) and to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) and “for everything [to give] thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20). Focusing on the positive is rooted and flows from a focus on Christ himself. He is Light and Love, which are both very positive descriptors. Thanksgiving, rejoicing in the Lord, and abiding in Christ are essential elements to producing positivity in your perspective.
Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean we ignore the negative effects of suffering and sin in our world. It means that we always come to the conclusion that God is bigger than all of that. Perhaps the negative is right in front of you. Cast your gaze on Christ and let the negative fall into your peripheral vision. Focusing on the positive isn’t a call to live in a “dream world” or a call to pretend everything is okay, rather it is a call to root yourself in the ultimate truth and reality: the kingdom of God. This kingdom consists of love, joy, and peace. As we carry the crosses in our lives, we can well up with joy when we look beyond to the reality of the resurrection. As we focus on the positive, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Focus on the joy that is set before you my child, namely being with Christ for eternity.