Pessimism easy; faith takes leap

It’s easy for me to decide something won’t happen.

The relatives who are sick won’t get better. The friends who are messed up won’t straighten out. The unexpected bill that came in won’t get paid, unless I get a second job.

I don’t talk like that.

I say that we’ll deal with the problem. Hey, doctors and medicine are improving all the time. And besides, who knows what God will do?

Name a cliche, and I can come out with it.

But inside, I tend to see the worst — and believe it.

While “everything works out in the end,” it may not work out very well. Or so a voice inside me will whisper at the worst possible moment.

I thought about that as I read the story of Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people from Chapter 6 of John.

The disciples are confronted with thousands of hungry people, and wonder what Jesus will do about it. A few days earlier, these guys had just watched Jesus heal a man who had been paralyzed for 33 years.

But they still didn’t see another miracle coming.

I sometimes say things are a miracle when I’m not sure if God actually did the supernatural. I just decide to thank God, give him credit. Maybe it’s a way of covering all the spiritual bases. Maybe I’m just naive.

But those with Jesus had no doubts about what they witnessed. The blind could see, the lame could walk, the lepers were healed, and it all happened after a touch from Jesus.

It was a God thing, no doubt.

Staring at all the people, Jesus asked Philip: “Where shall we buy bread for them to eat?”

Philip is a lot like me. He looked at the people, began computing the cost, and started talking about needing “eight months wages for everyone to just have one bite.”

In other words, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can quickly fall into the “ain’t gonna happen” mentality. The cancer will come back, the allergy will just get worse, and the bills will certainly go up.

After Philip gives his math lesson, a disciple named Andrew shows up with a little kid who has a basket with a few fish and some bread. He believes enough to think Jesus may be able to do something with it — even if he had no idea what.

Then Andrew begins to waver as he approaches, “How far will this go among so many?”

The other disciples are looking at Andrew and the kid, and Andrew probably thinks, “Boy, do I look stupid! These guys must think I’m an idiot, and they’ll never let me forget this stunt.”

About every time that I have taken a single step in a God direction, I begin to feel dumb. Who am I kidding? Assuming God is even paying attention, why would he care about my problems?

Maybe your faith is so strong, you don’t have those doubts. Some people are like that, and I wish I was more like those people.

I like Andrew’s honesty. Here’s the kid, here’s the bread and fish, but what good will it do? Jesus took the food and fed the 5,000. There were even 12 baskets left over, one for each disciple.

I love this story because the disciples seem so human, and because Jesus was waiting for someone to do something before he acted. It’s as if he rewarded Andrew.

There are times when I’m negative like Philip. Other times, I do take a shaky step in the direction of faith, but I’m like Andrew.

Ever notice how the memories of disappointments and times when God seemed absent can blot out the blessings of the past? It’s like the doubts are on speed dial of my brain, and my faith is on perpetual hold.

I have to work to keep the faith. I have to intentionally remind myself of times when God really was there for me, when something strange did happen to pull me through. I need to remember that I didn’t come this far by myself, others helped — especially God.

Terry Pluto can be reached at Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at


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