Staying Positive in a Negative World

by Larry J. McElroy

Have you ever experienced the “post-Feast blues,” feeling down when plunged into the murky cold waters of society after experiencing an exhilarating Feast of Tabernacles? Have you had a difficult time readjusting to your job and work environment? Have you encountered personal problems that appear immense after returning home from God’s Feast?

Everyone has experienced setbacks of some sort after the Feast, but it is possible to reverse the tendency to settle into discouragement and disillusionment. You can be upbeat and enthusiastic about your life!

Remember how excited you were while attending God’s Feast? Meeting new people—hearing about the kingdom of God—enjoying stimulating conversations and scenery—all, no doubt, highlights of your Feast. These events must continue to motivate and influence your thoughts. They should spur you to greater growth. Retain the picture of being a servant of God undergoing training and being molded for God’s great purpose. “And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).

After returning home from the Feast, we are to continue to rejoice for what God has provided for us. Expressing appreciation and gratitude toward Him will help us maintain a positive attitude.

Many who become depressed focus on what they do not have in this physical life. They may look at their neighbors and realize they do not have the same material wealth. This is superficial reasoning and should be viewed in light of what God says. “Let your conversation [conduct] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).

When considering the opportunities God has placed before us, how can we be negative?

Plan to Improve Your Life

Evaluate your environment at home. During the Feast you should have come to understand that our Creator God does things decently and in order (I Cor. 14:40). Is your home orderly? Is your study environment conducive to seeking God? Does the location where you pray lend itself to peace and tranquility?

An organized living and study setting, free of clutter, will help you to maintain a positive approach to your life. Decide today to organize your life—to provide an atmosphere where you can seek God first.

Feast messages are often filled with detailed and tangible suggestions about planning for our future roles in the kingdom of God. Take these personally! Develop a plan to improve your capability as a manager, no matter your age. Be a problem-solver, and overcome obstacles that hinder your growth or accomplishment.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 states, “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither you go.”

God expects us to use our talents in profitable ways—to produce good works. It is our responsibility to discover and develop our unique aptitudes and apply ourselves in developing our full potential.

For example, you might desire to take a computer course to communicate through email with those you met at the Feast. You may be inspired to plant an organic garden, or learn how to do woodworking. Many projects may have come to mind during conversations at the Feast of Tabernacles.

Be a doer, not a person who sits on the sidelines. Establish firm goals to change for the better, and write them down on paper. Get out on the “field of life” and fulfill your capabilities. Those who take action—those who respond to instruction given at the Feast to improve their lives—can avoid being negative or feeling self pity.

New accomplishments and changes are possible. Notice: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

How to Maintain Positive Focus

Negative emotions often result from focusing on mistakes of the past. If God has forgiven our sins, then we should forgive ourselves. Dwelling on the past will rekindle the same negative thought patterns and emotions that created a fertile ground for offending behavior. We must focus on the future, not the past.

The apostle Paul said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). Paul mentions forgetting what is past, our errors or miscues, and focusing on the future—the goal of fulfilling our calling.

Develop friendships that were established in the millennial setting of God’s Feast. You should have had ample opportunity to meet new people and develop bonds with others.

But what do you do after returning home? Continue to build the rapport you established with brethren. With modern communications, we can telephone, email or write notes to continue to bond with brethren of like minds—even across the globe. They are our true friends, and we will be working with them in God’s kingdom for eternity. We must do our part in cultivating our friendships just as we cultivate our relationship with God.

The book of Proverbs instructs us on steps to take to solidify camaraderie.

  • “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
  • “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17).
  • “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17).

These instructive scriptures show us we need to be friendly in order to have friends. We must communicate with others. In so doing, we hone or sharpen them as Christians.

Additionally, we should express love and be available for them under any conditions. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another…rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:10, 15).

Having friends to rely on, and using opportunities to encourage others will take the focus off ourselves and enable us to have the mind of Christ: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4). Helping others and looking out for their needs will put each of us in the positive frame of mind that comes from living God’s give way of life.

Be a problem-solver. You must take control of the circumstances that affect you; turn minuses into pluses, or negatives into positives.

Delaying to act on a problem will only cause it to grow worse, or you may rationalize the problem away—despite knowing a proper response from God’s perspective is required. You will then violate your conscience, which can lead to negative feelings and a strong sense of guilt, creating a pessimistic approach to life. Harmful emotions follow, and it remains difficult to avoid destructive behavior.

After the Feast is a great time to tackle and conquer problems. Use positive projections of the coming kingdom of God to surmount difficulties. When you feel you are losing momentum, seek God’s intervention.

Ask God for His Assistance

If you find yourself spiraling downward into despair, what measures can be taken to restore stability? Remember that God is the source of a Christian’s strength. He knows the proper responses for our particular situation. He has given us His Spirit to overcome negative forces impacting our lives. Since God is the source of all good things, we must ask for help.

Notice Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him” (Matt. 7:7-11).

Think on These Things

What do you meditate on? The cares of this life? The emotional pain you are suffering? Hurt feelings? Physical pains? Your economic circumstances?

Or do you focus on the truth? Do you focus on the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33)?

Paul’s instruction to God’s people makes it crystal clear that we must refocus our thinking to a different level, to have an upbeat view in this mundane evil world. “If you then be risen with Christ [in baptism], seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection [mind] on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).

Notice the categories into which our thinking should be directed: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise think [meditate] on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

Truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, good reports, virtue and praise are not thoughts upon which the world commonly focuses. The news media, business world, governments and educational institutions do not bring this line of assessment to their audiences. Therefore, to remain positive in a negative world, we must sidestep from this world’s agenda and reflect on God’s perspective.

Obedience Brings Positive Outlook

God’s Word tells us that to obey is better than sacrifice (I Sam. 15:22). Obedience to God’s Way brings many blessings, not the least of which is an optimistic view of our life. Being in harmony with God’s laws brings confident assurance that our lives have value and that God will guide us. Notice the tangible blessings that bring contentment into our lives when we obey God.

  • Peace: “Great peace have they which love Your law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psa. 119:165).
  • Vision: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18).
  • Favor: “My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of your heart: So shall your find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:1-4).
  • Requests Granted: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:21-22).

These substantial benefits, which come from acting upon instruction from God and Feast messages He inspires, will increase our faith and desire to walk with Him. As we walk with God, we will recognize our need to claim more of His promises. Our conviction will increase that we can have God actively helping us each day. We can overcome the “blues, upsets, bad attitudes, unresolved problems, disputes, anxiety” and “fear.”

Will you operate in “panic mode”? Or will you keep your composure and operate in a peaceful, positive mode? Choose to act positively and come to God boldly (Heb. 4:16). Claim His promise of help in time of need.

Claim God’s Promises

You are not alone in your struggles. God is with you. Christ’s sacrifice has made God’s intervention in your life possible.

Christ told His disciples He would not leave them comfortless. “Hitherto have you asked nothing in My name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Approach God as your loving Parent, asking your requests in gratitude, and you will experience His intervention in your life.

Often people become negative when they realize they must leave family, friends, business associates and jobs to obey God. Should this dim our outlook on life? No!

Notice Christ’s answer to Peter when he realized he and the disciples had given up everything to follow Christ. “Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed You; what shall we have therefore?

“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That you which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt. 19:27-29).

God promises those who have had to forsake family to obey Him a new family much greater in magnitude and importance.

When you stumble or fall, spiritually, pick yourself up and start running again. Remember, God can lend you a hand. Again, claim God’s intervention when you take a misstep. Notice how David describes the merciful help God provides to His chosen ones. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed” (Psa. 37:23-26).

Will you trust God to uphold you when events turn sour? If you do, and ask for His help, He will bring happiness and joy back into your life.

See the Big Picture

Plan now to go forward with your life as a begotten son of God. Each of us is a unique individual with awesome potential. Ask God to mold your abilities and talents into distinctive tools of service. Do not overlook the little things that you do well; develop those further.

Being a servant to others is the ultimate means to use your abilities. Serving others will bring love, joy and peace into your life and reward you with a positive view of your role in God’s Church.

See the big picture. Focus away from the self. You are being trained to teach others God’s way of life. See this world’s need for problem solvers who will apply God’s laws and principles in every circumstance. Visualize your part in restoring righteous government to the earth. Think as a servant, and you will be joyful. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither He that is sent greater than He that sent Him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (John 13:15-17).

Realize that God has guided you to achieve the very best. You have the truth. You are being taught a God-ordained lifestyle. Unlike most who have ever lived, you are not ignorant of God’s Plan. You know you have a glorious future ahead. You can become a son of God and inherit all things (Rev. 21:7)!

Take the inspiration you gained at the Feast and go forward, as an ambassador of God. You are one of the most blessed individuals to ever walk the face of the earth. Be positive, thankful and joyful as you contribute your part in God’s Work!