When I listen to my entire iTunes library in shuffle mode I never know what might suddenly come over the speakers. Rock, classical, children's, christian, rap, bagpipe, country, polka, heavy metal…well, the list could go on. I even have some Ronald Reagan clips with which I did not set to "Skip when shuffling," and this week one labeled "Optimism" snuck in between songs. At the end of the selection he told a joke that brightened my day, and I hope will brighten yours:
A man who had two sons…and he was very disturbed about them. One was a pessimist beyond recall. The other one was an optimist beyond reason. He talked to a child psychiatrist who made a suggestion. He said, "I think we can fix that." He said, "We'll get a room and we'll fill it with the most wonderful toys any boy ever had." And he said, "We'll put the pessimist in. And when he finds out they're for him, he'll get over being a pessimist."
And his father said, "What will you do about the optimist?"
Well, he said, "I have a friend who's got a racing stable and they clean out the stalls every morning." And he said, "I can get quite a…an amount of that substance." And he said, "We'll put that in another room and when the optimist, who's seen his brother get all those toys is then shown into that room and that's there he'll get over being an optimist."
Well, they did and they waited about five minutes and then they opened the door and the pessimist was sitting there crying as if his heart would break. He said, "I know somebody is going to come in and take these away from me."
And they went down to the other room and they opened the door and there was the kid happy as a clam throwing that stuff over his shoulders as fast as he could and they said, "What are you doing?" And he says, "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"1
Are you the optimist or the pessimist?
I think that anyone who has spent a few years on this rebellious planet can confirm that, just like the racing stable, this world provides "an [ample] amount of that substance." Assuming we aren't experiencing it directly ourselves, we are constantly bombarded with news of coworkers, friends, and family suffering various tragedies, developing cancer, going through divorces, losing their jobs…
Again, the list could go on.
Pain, anguish, cruelty, death, hate, anger, evil…all seem to be the harvest of this world. Not that there are no happy moments snuck in, but especially as you head toward (or have passed) the half-century mark, your prayer list expands seemingly exponentially.
Whether a pessimist or an optimist, we are all thrown into the optimist's room…and I suspect most of us aren't excitedly throwing its contents over our shoulders because we know that "there's got to be a pony in [there] somewhere!"
Now, another random possibility in my iTunes library is a piece by a Christian band named The Letter Black. Best I can tell, the singer either is (or is imagining) being someone who has been separated from their love (or perhaps a family member). I cannot tell if the person is just very distant or has passed away, but ever since the first time I heard "There'll Come a Day" I've found it reminds me of a future guaranteed for every Christian.
There'll come a day
When I can hold you and say it's forever
There'll come a day
When these broken lives fade back together
You'll have to trust me that when sung by their talented singer and backed by some awesome guitars, those words can be terribly uplifting…especially if you are like me and keep hitting repeat over-and-over. 🙂
Not to be outdone by modern music, the Bible says, "There'll come a day" in various ways…and with words that many would fine more inspiring than that hard rock Christian group's. For instance:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4, English Standard Version).
No enough of a pony for you? How about?:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Unlike the optimistic child in President Reagan's joke, under "that substance" that life gives us so much of there really is something great for a Christian. No, it's not a pony…but it is so, so much better. It is Jesus Himself…with a bonus of a cool trip through the clouds to meet up with Him! No wonder Paul told the Thessalonians to "encourage one another with these words."
Whether you are a pessimist or an optimist at heart, if you are part of the body of Christ you should be like that second boy, convinced (as you dig through life's issues) that in a relatively short time (in the scheme of things) you will find that pony that you know is in there.
Because it is!
1 From the two CD set, Well…There You Go Again: The Humor that Shaped America. Please note that the joke was transcribed word for word, and what sounds like “bad” English in black-and-white sounds perfectly appropriate when listened to. Available at Amazon.com: http://amzn.com/B0030BF6JQ