How to Keep a Positive Attitude

In counseling a young woman, who had been sexually molested as a young child, we worked on an approach called “healing of memories”. In this intervention she was to picture Jesus coming into the past event and wait to see what He would say or do. We waited in silence after a time of preparation. She told me she saw the Lord and He said to her, “I was there.” This was a new revelation to her as she had always felt God had left her alone. To her, this thought of realizing God never abandoned her was very helpful and therapeutic. Her conclusion was this was a world under the curse of sin where all kinds of evil things happen. This was not God’s fault but man’s for rebelling against God. God never promised to keep believers from all the consequences of evil. We still get sick, experience natural disasters and will eventually die from something. However, God did promise to never abandon us, and to deliver us through all the consequences and eventually bring something good from the evil (See Romans 8.28-29).

A Negative World
As beautiful as this world is we must always remember that it is under the curse of sin. This means that everything material, including people, are in the process of death and decay. It is moving from the positive to the negative. Creation left to itself moves from God’s light to darkness. This is why I refer to it as a “negative world”. Another reality to remember in this negative world is that control is an illusion. There are very few things in life we can control. We can’t control people, the weather, many of our circumstances, the economy, national events or the creation. However, there is one thing you can control – your attitude. This is what Victor Frankel discovered through surviving a Nazi death camp in World War II. His captors could control everything physical and material about his life but the one thing that could not be controlled was his attitude – his human spirit. One major attribute that sets people apart is how they choose to respond to the people, forces and circumstances in which they have no control over. This is the key to keeping a positive attitude in a negative world. In more biblical terms, we would call it an attitude of praise or joy.

David: A Positive Man in a Negative World
King David, the psalmist of Israel, displayed this positive attitude toward life. He had experienced much tragedy and negativity in his lifetime. However, overall, he lived with a positive spirit. In Psalm 9, he gives us insight into the choices he made as he processed through the negative in life. His choices give us a good model to follow for our life.

Psalm 9 says:
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. When my enemies turn back, They shall fall and perish at Your presence. For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever. O enemy, destructions are finished forever! And you have destroyed cities; Even their memory has perished. But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble. Have mercy on me, O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, That I may tell of all Your praise . In the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation. The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. The Lord is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah! The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten; The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, O Lord, Do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, O Lord, That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah!

Let us break down the verses in Psalm 9. First, let’s look at v1-2-

I Choose My Attitude and Actions
Five times in these two verses David said, “I will”. He was making a deliberate choice to give thanks, to tell, to be glad and exult and sing praise. David had learned to find his encouragement and comfort in the person of God simply for who He was and for what He had done for David.We have heard the expression that trials make us bitter or better. By focusing on the negatives of our life, which we all have (remember this is a world under the curse of sin), we will become bitter and unthankful. Like Satan, this bitterness will cause us to rebel against God and exalt our will over God’s (Isaiah 14.12-14). Or, like David, we can choose to focus on the positives of our life and become better. If you take the time to reflect eventually you will see some of the positives.

I Choose to Put Faith in God’s Righteous Justice (V. 3-6)
God is a righteous judge and will always do right (v.4). However, God judges in His time and way, which is righteous and wise. Every individual and nation will eventually stand before Him in judgment (v.5-6). It was the reality of this truth that delivered my heart from bitterness after the murder of my younger brother. That happened 38 years ago and no one was ever charged or held accountable for his death. It would seem someone got away with murder. However, the reality is that is not true for one day everyone stands before God and He will right all wrongs. David said to God, “You have maintained my right and just cause.” This is the one thing that we need to be sure of, that “my just cause” is God’s just cause. If I have accepted God’s agenda for my own life then in reality my enemies are God’s enemies. It is up to God to deal with them if He wants to bring His will to pass. We should also never forget that we too are creatures that deserved Divine judgment but have received grace and mercy instead. This truth should give us patience with others if God seems to be giving them the same options of grace and mercy.

I Choose to Maintain Perspective (v.7)
Perspective is stepping back and seeing life in the context of God’s big picture. Contrary to what we often think the world doesn’t revolve around you or me. It revolves around God and His redemptive plan for the ages. I am simply one piece of the larger, more important picture. Perspective reminds me that: God has not forsaken me (v.10b). God will outlast any temporary negative person or circumstance (v.7). God will one day judge the world in righteousness and justice. He will right every wrong (v.8). God will be my stronghold and shelter in whom I trust until that day (v.9-10).

I Will Choose to be Confident God is Aware of me and My Situation (v.11-20)
God dwells in Zion (v.11), which is another name for His heavenly throne. From this perspective He sees and knows all things. He does not forget the cries of the afflicted or the evil deeds of the unrighteous (v.12). God will eventually make Himself known to believers and unbelievers but it will be in His time and way. It will usually be in such a way that it will be clear to those who are willing to see that God showed up. One of those ways is what we often call poetic justice – “in the work of his own hands the wicked is shared” (v.15-16). God reminds us all to keep the end game always in view. The end game perspective includes the following truths (v.17-20): We are but men (v.20) – we are as powerless as a newborn baby before an all powerful God. We exist by His grace and for His glory and good pleasure. The wicked will eventually return to the grave. The needy will not always be forgotten nor the afflicted perish forever. As a child of God, He knows who you are, where you are and what your needs are. He always cares for His own because He is the perfect Father – the Dad our hearts long for. The one thing in life I control is my attitude. I choose how to respond to the negatives of life. God wants me to be a positive person of faith. Not only will this choice enable me to be blessed by God (Heb. 11.6) but it also enables me to live a more enjoyable life.

Dr. John Hawkins Sr. is the director at Gateway Counseling Center. He is also founder and pastor of Center Pointe Church in Boynton Beach, Fl. For more information about Dr. John and his services please email him at: [email protected]

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