“Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Feb 22
If you pay any attention to popular culture, then you have probably heard a fairly constant stream of authors and self-help gurus touting the absolute power of positive thinking; if you just believe something hard enough, then it will come true. I suppose that sometimes this is true. I also suppose that doing so would likely derail your faith for a number of reasons.
Spiritual tenacity is clinging to God only – God above all else that we may desire. I love the Oswald Chambers quotation about spiritual tenacity because you can believe with absolute certainty that what you are looking for is going to transpire IF you are looking for God. If you are looking to become thin or become a millionaire or have a baby, then you may not believe with absolute certainty that it will happen. You can hope that it will happen, but you can’t know it absolutely. So why do I think that believing with absolute certainty in something other than God will derail your faith?
To say that you believe in God and then to also try to obtain some blessing from him using what is essentially a Jedi mind trick is perilously close to not believing in God at all, or having an idol as a backup plan like the Bible records so many times. To allow something to take as prominent a place in our hearts as God is to allow something other than God to rule our hearts. It’s easy for me to say that, but it is not very easy to do – to single-mindedly follow only God. I am human, and my human passions do not naturally run straight to God; they run to wanting children, to doing and eating the things that I enjoy without thought to the consequences, to all the things that I would like to accomplish…
And what happens if your persistent positive thinking comes to pass? Do you think that you would attribute the blessing to God’s work in your life? Or would you be like me and start to enact the same positive thinking model on every aspect of your life without really thinking about God? I am not good enough to think that I would do anything else but say, “I believed that it would happen, and it finally did. Oh, yeah, and God probably helped.” But if I prayed to God for something specific AND asked for him to show me and to carry out his purpose rather than mine, then I can know that what came to pass really came from God and came in his time with his blessing.
But what happens to your faith when your positive thinking mojo doesn’t work? I can tell you: your faith will be shattered because what you believed wasn’t solid, and it can’t support you when things go bad. Without some bedrock to build on, we’re literally and only dust in the wind. Or, you’ll lose any sense of confidence and value you ever possessed because you’ll know that you weren’t strong enough or you didn’t believe hard enough for your positive thinking to come true. I appreciate the efforts of those who think that sheer will power and mind transformation can affect actual results in the world. The truth is that they can, when they are done by Christ. When those things are attempted by us, mere mortals, we foul it up. We have no power except that which God gives us.
To those who only believe in the power of positive thinking, keep a wide berth, as I am likely to whack you with a blunt object the second you start talking to me about it. Do you really think that I wasn’t thinking positive thoughts about each of my pregnancies? If you really believe that we make our own destinies, do you honestly believe that I want to feel this kind of pain? Do you really want to tell me that if I had only prayed harder or dedicated more positive thinking that the outcome would have been different? Do you really think that I haven’t prayed specifically about having a baby? I have, and God has answered me. It wasn’t the answer I wanted, but it was a solid answer that I can hang on to with great tenacity. He told me to wait – to wait for his time and his plan. He told me that he could have let me have a child right then if that’s all I wanted, but if I wanted to know him and trust him I needed to wait for him. Some of that answer was clearly audible to me, and some of it is my wording of the knowledge he placed in my soul when I pray about the situation. I also know that soon, I will have another answer; I just don’t know what that answer is yet.
I can pray that I will have a child, and you can pray along with me, as long as you realize that God may have another plan. Don’t tempt me by forcing a single plan on me, however inadvertently. I appreciate the sentiment when you say that you “just know that we’ll have a baby soon,” but I don’t want to only hope to have a child if that’s not the direction God has for us. Pray with me instead that I will see and accept God’s plan, and then we can praise God together for his answer.
One thought on “Tenacity and the Power of Positive Thinking”
Wow. Really, really good stuff, Anne. Praying with you that God’s will be done and that you are able to embrace whatever it is. I am incredibly impressed with your willingness to praise Him despite your circumstances!