I'm an optimist, and according to a new AP-AOL opinion poll conducted by IPSOS, I'm in good company:
Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.
Despite the daily flood of bad news from Iraq, most Americans find themselves well-fed, comfortable, healthy, secure, with bright prospects for the future.
But our national mood swings with the headlines, and our personal circumstances. Americans are hopeful, but hard knocks could be waiting around the corner.
Optimism doesn't make for a very robust life philosophy.
The New Testament offers an alternative to a feel-good optimism dependent on low unemployment, favorable credit card rates and a comprehensive medical plan. Hope cannot be shaken, it claims, if that hope is rooted in the God who reached out to us through Jesus Christ.
The apostle Peter knew this Christ, ate with this Christ, loved this Christ and watched him die. Initially devastated by the execution of his good friend, Peter witnessed a miracle the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. That miracle became the centerpiece of a new optimism in Peter, an optimism built on a relationship with a loving and merciful God:
God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. ... It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great [optimism], and we have a priceless inheritance an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 1 Peter 1:2-4, NLT
As we enter 2007, I can think of a great many reasons to be optimistic. Most of them are tenuous, at best, and our national euphoria might unravel with tomorrow's headlines.
Like Peter, I have found one very good reason for optimism. My hope rests in the God who became man, the executed prisoner who broke the chains of death, the Son of God who loves me, and whose blood washed away my sins: Jesus Christ.
Happy New Year.