Keep a Positive Attitude
IT WAS an early summer morning. But the Middle Eastern sun was already shining brightly when a father received some distressing news. His firstborn son, 22 years old, had died in a car accident during the night.
How would you have reacted to that news? Because the family members were so close, as they are in the Middle East, the parents were indeed distraught. It would have seemed natural for them to become very bitter in response to this sudden tragedy. Yet, to the astonishment of the community, they showed a positive attitude, even on that first day. Although greatly saddened, they had full trust in Jehovah’s ability to resurrect their son at His appointed time. They looked forward to God’s promised new system where “death will be no more.” (Revelation 21:4) Even today, years later, people who know that family still talk of the parents’ attitude and of their exemplary faith.
What does it mean to have a positive attitude? A positive person keeps himself balanced despite changing circumstances. Even under trying conditions he does not turn sour, letting negative thoughts dominate. How is this possible? To find some answers, let us consider some Biblical examples.
When Faced With Fear of Men
In the year 1512 B.C.E., while the nation of Israel was in the wilderness of Paran, Moses sent 12 spies to check out the Promised Land. (Numbers 13:17-20) All the spies were chieftains in their tribes—men of influence who were supposed to be good examples. (Numbers 13:1, 2) But what a shame! After 40 days, ten of them gave such an unfavorable report that the Israelites rebelled against Jehovah’s direction and wanted to return to Egypt! “The people who dwell in the land are strong,” said the spies. “We are not able to go up against the people.”—Numbers 13:28, 31.
What a negative attitude! And what a contrast was seen in the positive attitude of Joshua and Caleb, the remaining two spies: “The land that we passed through to spy it out is a very, very good land. If Jehovah has found delight in us, then he will certainly bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that is flowing with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:7, 8; 13:30) Both groups saw the same things while spying out the land. But what a difference in attitude! The negative attitude of the ten spies affected the whole nation, and they started murmuring. It resulted in all of those over 20 years of age dying in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb, because of their positive trust in Jehovah, were privileged to enter into the Promised Land. (Numbers 14:22-30) Their example should encourage us in this day to stay faithful and keep a positive attitude when persecution or opposition comes or increases.
In a country that has been under ban for many years, a special pioneer was put in prison and treated very badly. He recalls: “The harder the officers came to be, the closer I felt to Jehovah. I sang Kingdom songs. I recalled all the scriptures that I knew. I realized that, although Jehovah was permitting this to happen, he was able—at any moment—to release me. All of this helped me to have a positive attitude. Like the apostles, I felt happy to be beaten for the sake of Jehovah’s almighty name. I prayed constantly for Jehovah to strengthen me. He came to my aid, so that only the first blow would hurt. I used every opportunity to preach to the other prisoners.”
After his release from prison, this Christian said: “Since we have dedicated our lives to Jehovah and have promised to stay faithful to him, we should continue serving him despite any difficulties. He deserves our worship and complete devotion.”
We, too, may face similar opposition in the future. Let us be equally determined to have no fear of men. Keep a positive attitude, and as was the case with Joshua and Caleb, many blessings and rewards will be given us.
When Service Privileges Are Lost
Moses, as leader of the nation of Israel, was the one who sent out the 12 spies. He had led the nation out of Egypt and doubtless expected to be the one to lead them into the Promised Land. However, Moses lost that privilege when, in a moment of exasperation, he failed to magnify Jehovah’s name. (Numbers 20:2-13) How did Moses then react? In a song that he later composed, he said: “I shall declare the name of Jehovah . . . The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:3, 4) What a positive attitude Moses had, although he had lost an important privilege of service!
If we ever have to face a similar situation, remembering this experience of Moses will help us. It may happen that a body of elders in a congregation recommends the removal of an elder or a ministerial servant, perhaps because he has come to lack one or more of the Scriptural qualifications required for this privilege of service. The brother may feel that he did not deserve the removal, become upset, and cause unnecessary disturbance. Having a negative attitude, he might start murmuring, finding fault with others, even gossiping. Eventually, he might stop attending meetings and sharing in the preaching work. What a bad state to come into! How much better to maintain a positive attitude and regard the deletion as discipline or training to become a better servant of Jehovah. He could well seize the opportunity to study and meditate on God’s Word so as to regain the needed qualifications for serving Him to the full. Many who have done so have later been blessed with even greater privileges of service.—Hebrews 12:11.
When Unexpected Changes Occur
Life is full of unexpected changes that may cause some to become disappointed and adopt a negative attitude. How did you react the last time something did not go as well as you had hoped? Even minor events can discourage us if we let them. But never forget: Keeping a positive attitude will help you to face the changed situation better.
A good example to remember is that of Ruth. Widowed early in life, she returned to Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, when the famine there subsided. Without a husband to supply even the basic necessities, Ruth nonetheless maintained a positive attitude. Cheerfully, she went out to glean in the fields after the harvesters so that she and her mother-in-law would have food to eat. The hard work did not discourage her. She did not adopt a negative attitude, bemoaning the fact that she had lost her husband and now was far away from her family and friends. And as the record shows, Jehovah richly rewarded her for her fine course.—Ruth 4:13-17.
How to Keep a Positive Attitude
Keeping a positive attitude is difficult for some. The anxieties of life, especially in the troubled times in which we live, can rob one of joy—particularly when nagging problems persist. Yet, even in unfavorable circumstances, one can maintain a positive attitude. Many have done so in the most trying situations. How can we do the same?
Try not to dwell on negative things. Even during great difficulties, positive aspects can be found. The apostles were often persecuted or imprisoned, but they were still happy to be able to praise Jehovah. (Acts 13:50-52; 14:19-22; 16:22-25) We can meditate on what they and other faithful servants of Jehovah did in times of trial and seek lessons for our own lives. Why were they cheerful and positive? Because they had complete confidence and faith in Jehovah. They trusted his ability to resurrect and reward them. (Revelation 2:10) Similarly, keep your hope in Jehovah’s righteous new system clear in mind.—Compare Hebrews 12:2.
We should also keep ourselves under scrutiny, lest negative thinking make inroads and take root in our hearts. How beneficial it is to keep close to Jehovah and pray for his help if we become discouraged! (Psalm 62:8) Upbuilding help can also be sought from the elders. Cultivate the spirit of humility and obedience. (Psalm 119:69, 70) Set wholesome, reachable goals in life. All these suggestions will help us keep a positive attitude and have the “peace of God” that will ‘guard our heart and our mental powers.’—Philippians 4:6, 7.
True, it is not always easy to have a positive attitude. However, by diligent effort and motivated by strong faith, such an attitude can be cultivated. So, whatever our circumstances may be, let all of us be determined to keep a positive outlook. It will never mean a loss for us but, rather, will work toward many delightful rewards both now and in the future.
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Keep a positive attitude, and many blessings and rewards will come to you