Dear Erica Baldwin,
I had a good chunk of this newsletter written, then I came across this headline:
“I'm out of the lemonade business”: Michael J. Fox on the day his optimism ran out
Backspace. Delete. Begin again.
In case you don’t know who he is, Michael J. Fox is an icon of my childhood. He was an 80s sitcom star on Family Ties, he played Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies, and he’s had a decades-long career as a successful actor. He’s also battled Parkinson’s disease since his 20s, and is known for his advocacy and optimism in spite of his obstacles.
Fox is back in the news because he’s released a new memoir, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, after an extremely difficult 2018 which included loss, injury, and literally learning to walk again. In this interview (you should read it), he says:
“...[T]he future is the last thing we run out of. We run out of breath. We run out of everything. Then there comes a point where we have no more future and that's the end of it. But until then there's always something in the future to be optimistic about, to look forward to. It may change our circumstances or it may not, but that will run out, so enjoy it while you have it.”
He ends on an optimistic note - giving a nod to gratitude and living the life you have to the fullest. While I applaud Fox’s resilience and appreciation for life even when we suffer, I sense his lack of true hope: “There comes a point where we have no more future.”
I began thinking about the difference between optimism and hope.
Aware or not, we all have an everlasting future, an eternity facing us. And for the blood-bought believer in Christ, that eternity is filled with joy, completion, and unity with Christ. Hope.
Optimism can fuel us only so far, but hope provides a never-ending supply of endurance, peace, and joy. Our circumstances can be grueling - illness, loneliness, unfulfilled longings, heartache (oh, how I’ve been there!) - but hope supplies the adrenaline to get to the finish line.
The object of our hope is Jesus. The outcome of our hope is eternal life and an inheritance beyond our imaginations. The evidence of our hope is to keep putting one foot in front of the other in obedience, patience, and faith.
Michael J. Fox has it almost right: “There's always something in the future to be optimistic about, to look forward to” -- in Christ. (my edit) Not just Pollyanna platitudes, true hope in Christ is life-changing. Oh, let's start living as hopeful and hope-filled Christians!
No more lemonade from lemons, y’all, but lasting hope in everlasting life.
I pray you move beyond optimism and ground your faith in the true Hope-Giver. Want a printable of hope-filled verses? Download it here. Happy Thanksgiving (in the weirdest year ever) - may you cling to God's goodness even in a pandemic.
Oh His Goodness,