“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” –John 16:33 (NIV).

Stepping outside recently, I listened as cicadas played their dusk-time tune and fireflies lit up the near dark. It reminded me of bygone days when life was simpler.

If not for the heat and the mosquitoes, I would have made myself a bed on my backyard deck and let those insects sing me to sleep. Their singing reminded me of my childhood.

Growing up in Louisiana, I recall being outdoors at dusk with other neighborhood kids. With empty Mason jars in hand, we’d wait for the fireflies to begin their dance. The race ensued when the light show started and ended when our mothers called us indoors for the night.

Some released their captives while others poked holes in their jar lids to ensure the survival of their insects, preferring to place them on their windowsills overnight.

While yesterday’s memories seem so far away, changes in our society—some good and others not so good—appear to have happened overnight.

At least it seems that way to me. Or maybe, they’ve just sneaked up on me with each birthday that rolls around.

It’s easy to become cynical when our world has become so chaotic. It’s better to remember that God brings order to chaos, just as He did in the beginning. If we don’t, we’ll lose our joy, for that is where our joy originates.

The late evangelist Billy Graham once said, “If our hearts have been attuned to God through an abiding faith in Christ, the result will be joyous optimism and good cheer.”

What does abiding faith in Christ look like? According to the dictionary, abiding means to accept or act in accordance with a rule, decision or recommendation. Synonyms include obey, observe, follow, uphold and accept.

In John 15:6, Jesus gives us a picture of what it looks like to “not” abide in Him when He says, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”

What does this have to do with joy and optimism? If we choose to abide in Jesus and bear fruit for His Kingdom, our hope lies in Him. We know what our future holds. It’s eternal life with Him.

However, you can be optimistic and not have faith in God. Many unbelievers choose not to worry because life is more pleasant that way. Their motto sounds like the pop song, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

For the Christian, Biblical optimism results from faith in the character of God. Romans 15:3 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When our hope is in God, we can trust in His sovereign plan instead of our circumstances. As a result, we can experience true joy.

Round is a former Jay High School instructor who now resides in Grove. In addition to writing a weekly faith-based column, “A Matter of Faith,” Round spends time with her grandchildren, shooting photos, hiking, working in her yard, reading and studying the Word, volunteering at her church and going on mission trips. For more information, or to contact Round, persons interested may contact her at carol@carolaround.com.