But every time you try to think positively, someone grabs you and pulls you back down to earth. Maybe it's a snarky comment, a pessimistic outlook on your situation, or just plain whining. Whatever it is these people keep dragging you down.
And it's not like you can just cut them out of your life. These people are your family. They are your co-workers. Or worse: they are your (gasp) fellow Christians.
Maybe it's just time to join the whiners and pessimists. It would be easier that way. Besides, they seem to lead happy lives, right?
One Person Who Could Never Be Pleased
I can relate. I've been there.
I worked with a guy who always found something about the weather he didn't like. Let's call him John. It was always too windy, too cold, too hot, too rainy for John. One day I drove in to work, and the weather was gorgeous. Seventy degrees. No wind. Sunny day.
I swear I even saw a rainbow hugging a cloud.
When I spotted John I took my opportunity. I knew I had him. What could he possibly complain about? I wanted to hear him say something positive.
“Great day.” I said.
“Man this sun is going to make my grass grow like crazy. I’ll definitely have to mow this weekend.”
He couldn’t do it. He could not say something positive about the weather, even on a perfect day.
What Negativity and Vampires Have in Common
Listen, there's a time for pessimism, and negativity can be useful at times.
But generally I can’t stand it; it sucks the life out of everything nearby. I daresay that chronic negativity is a violation of the 3rd Commandment.
So how can you and I remain positive when we are surrounded by so many whiners?
I'll give you a few ideas, but first a story from the book of Ezra.
One Way to Deal with Whiners
When the Babylonians sacked Judah, they demolished the temple of God. Yes, the same temple that Solomon built. The same temple that was covered in gold on nearly every square inch. The same one that housed the Ark of the Covenant—The LORD's very presence on earth. Solomon's temple was so ornate, it makes St. Peter's Basilica look like a waste treatment plant.
After destroying God's house, the Babylonians rounded up the surviving Israelites and removed them from Judah. Seventy years later, the Jews returned home and began work on a new temple. When they finished laying the foundation, they stepped back to celebrate. But instead of cheering, some the older folk had a different reaction:
But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid.
Those weren’t tears of joy.
These guys remembered the awesomeness of the first temple and just knew that the second one couldn’t be as good. They could tell that just by looking at the foundation.
Undeterred, the rest of those present continued to cheer, praise God, and shout:
Many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
There's one way to deal with negativity.
Was it a sad thing that Solomon’s temple was destroyed? It was downright tragic.
But there’s nothing anyone could do about that. They couldn’t undo the sin that led to the invasion of Babylon (despite Jeremiah’s warnings). The first temple was gone. It was gone for good.
Notice the passage reads that "many" of those who had seen the former temple wept. That means some chose to rejoice; it wasn't just the young people who cheered. And cheered they did: so loudly you couldn't even make out the whining.
4 Ways to Remain Positive Amidst a Cacophony of Complaint
But it might not be such a good idea to shout for joy every time your co-worker complains about the weather. (Sounds like a good way to end up in court-ordered counseling.)
Instead, it may be instructive to try to reconstruct the mindset that those old, joyful priests had. That way you yourself can drown out the whining (at least metaphorically).
How did they do it? They knew how awesome the former temple was. They were sad that it got destroyed. How could they cheer?
Here's a few things we can take away:
1. They were thankful.
These old priests were grateful they were no longer captives. They were happy to be home, and thankful that God would allow them a second chance.
Tell God thank you every single day for your blessings. (If you think you don’t have any, you've lost touch with reality.) Tell others thank you too (yes, even the complainers).
2. They ignored the negative response.
When the others began weeping, the priests didn't rebuke them. They didn't address them at all. Instead they continued shouting for joy.
Just like with trolls, complainers want you to join them. They want a reaction. It feeds them. Don't give in.
3. They focused on the future.
Solomon's temple was history. No changing that. Instead they looked at the potential contained in the newly laid foundation. The past was rough, but the future was promising.
If you’re redeemed, your future is bright too. Will there be bad days? Bad months? Bad years? Yes. But that doesn’t change the hope we have in Christ. Whatever befalls us on earth, we still have eternity on our side. That's worth celebrating.
4. They were familiar with (and believed) God's promises.
Remember what the prophet Jeremiah said?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The priests and Levites who chose to cheer knew that God would make good on His word, and they were excited.
When we study the Word, it reminds us of the promises God makes. It reminds us that God wants to prosper us. That He sent His son that we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10b).
When All Else Fails Remember This Man
If those things don't help, try this:
When you feel down, remember Job. His endured immeasurable suffering. So much that his wife suggested he “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). But that's the whiner's way out. Instead this is what Job said:
You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?
And God rewarded Job’s faith and perseverance:
The Lord restored [Job’s] fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. . . The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.
Job 42:10, 12
Don’t let naysayers or complainers get you down. Be so positive, so gracious, so thankful that you're not even aware they exist.
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