Poignant Pessimism

Life is hard. Is that too blunt to say? Life not only is hard–but it is terribly wicked, cold, and futile. That is not to say that life is not also wonderful, beautiful, and gracious to us–as Christians Christ promised us trials and tribulations as well as the joy of the Spirit–but as we all continue to run this race towards the final goal, that is, Jesus Christ and our ultimate glorification, one can certainly see how the trials of this life can weigh us down throughout this process which seems like an eternity, albeit it is but a breath.Michaelangelo's Jeremiah

Sensing the critique: I understand that Christ takes our burdens, that His yoke is light. Moreover, I understand the eternal hope and joy we have in the Spirit. Notwithstanding, I would be kidding myself if I convinced the world that I ran around “happy” twenty-four/seven. To the contrary, as moot as many Christians might take this statement: I am a pessimist. To clarify, I am not saying that I am a pessimist in the metaphysical sense; namely, one whose soteriological view of the world is one of hopelessness, i.e. Schopenhauer, et al. To clarify further, we must make sure not to confuse pessimism with cynicism–which I loathe, and am far from–or negativity, which is contrary to our biblical mandate. Rather, I am saying that in my day-to-day life, although I am constantly filled with joy of the Lord–and have numerous amicable friendships wherein co-workers, family, and friends praise my character and admit that they just love being around me and spending time with me due to my encouraging attitude and amiable candor–I tend to see situations in a more bleak light, in especially concerning future events. This is true of the future for me personally, and also, the future of global events eschatologically.

Even still, all of the aforementioned is not disheartening to me in the least–to the contrary. I feed off of this most times, as my introverted personality, and tenancy to emotionalize everything, squared right in with this sort of poignant pessimism. In fact, although I certainly feed off of my experiences, and especially am encouraged when I can relate such and such experiences with others who have gone before me–such as Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, et al.–I find much comfort in the writings of the prophets, who were often melancholy in their demeanor; misunderstood by the masses; and despondent and alone.

“Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! Are not my few days almost over?” Job 10:18-20a

 

“Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

 

“So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun. I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:2-4

 

“[Elijah] came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.” 1 Kings 19:4, 5a

 

“Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, “A child is born to you—a son!” May that man be like the towns the Lord overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame.” Jeremiah 20:14-18

The struggles, trials, and hardships they faced were real, inasmuch as the struggles hardships, and trials we face are real. Throughout them all, God hears us, He knows what we experience existentially; yea, even the Son of God, who put on human flesh.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” Hebrews 4:15

Take heart, saints.

-b

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