Across the Pastor’s Desk: Is glass half full or half empty?

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, October 11, 2018

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Kenneth Jensen

Kenneth Jensen


If a 12-ounce glass contains six ounces of a beverage, is it half full or half empty?

A pessimist sees it half empty. Negative thinkers get depressed over issues such as growing old, the national debt, the widening income gap between the 1 percent and the rest of us, climate change, the environment, overpopulation and immigration, to name but a few.

The optimist sees the glass half full. Positive thinkers do not deny the real challenges we face.   However, they possess a can-do spirit. Where some foresee catastrophes, others see possibilities.

In this season of political campaigning, the focus is often on the negative. At such times, it serves us well to see the glass as half full:

(1) With little reason to think positively, still talks are underway with North Korea holding promise for ending the nuclear standoff. 

(2) Even though jobs in America have been lost to globalization, the percentage of the world population living in destitute poverty has been cut in half.

(3) Despite the rise in drug-resistant pathogens, more people are living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

(4) In spite of the news headlines, old biases and prejudices are breaking down.  Race, sex and ethnic differences mean less today than a generation ago.

(5) Science is making progress in many areas including agricultural production, industrial productivity, medicine, technology, communication and in understanding our universe.

Emotions are driven by either fear or faith. (Granted, fear has its place. Remember to look both ways before crossing the street.)  Continually driven by fear, we become self-serving, anxious, defensive, suspicious of others. 

Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).

Christianity portrays followers of Jesus as pilgrims on a journey to a heavenly home. The journey is defined by how we live in the here and now. Hence, the goal of every Christian is to leave this world a better place than we found it. To do that, takes the faith of a mustard seed.

Ken Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.