….exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full,
The half full-half empty glass of water paradox has been used forever to describe polar opposite perspectives people have about situations and life in general. I think many of us have labeled ourselves as one or the other. Because I’m a realist, or some would claim that I am a pessimist, my tendency is to see myself as a “glass half empty” kind of person, whilst others are eternal optimist who view most situations as hopeful and sees the glass half full most of the time.
I’ve fought hard to defend my perspective, arguing that without realists the world would soon end in chaos with people building castles in the sky. As I was thinking about this concept recently, it occurred to me that both perspectives are essential for maintaining a biblical worldview which always includes suffering as well as redemption. Bringing them together challenges people who want to polarise positions and tout their view as superior.
Jesus didn’t seem to think that there had to be a choice between the two perspectives, but encouraged the disciples and believers to embrace both outlooks, with a foundational commitment to the fact that the half full glass will eventually, at the consummation, give way to a perpetual overflowing. He said, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Paul, in recounting his sufferings, made sure to include both the half empty and half full portion of the picture when he said, “We are pressed on every side, but we still have room to move. We are often in much trouble, but we never give up. People make it hard for us, but we are not left alone. We are knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Death is working in us because we work for the Lord, but His life is working in you” (2 Cor. 4:8-12).
Both spoke realistically of suffering and evil, but at the same time they saw resurrection hope as the antidote to discouragement or despair. It never honours God for us to deny reality that there’s a spiritual war raging. Jesus warned Peter that the enemy wanted to sift him like wheat (Lk. 22:31). He knows that each of us faces similar trials and temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and he warns us in His Word that unless we face them, suit up in our spiritual armour, and pray for His sustaining power we’ll become casualties on the battle lines (Eph 6:10-18).
Yes, in some ways it appears the glass is half full: for others …. loved ones suffer from sickness and disease, marriages sometimes end in divorce, jobs are lost, people we trust let us down. But for the Christian the story never ends on the sorrowful note. Hope remains and healing will come both in this age and in the age to come (Mk. 10:29-30). God is in the process of making all things new. And even in the middle of the worst life experiences, He’s reminding us, whispering to our hearts, that He’s with us in our pain and suffering. The sun will shine again, healing will come, and hope can never be extinguished. We are more than over-comers through Him!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).