When Negative is Positive

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people around the globe have been tested for the virus. There are different kinds of tests and the time spent waiting for results varies a great deal. But one emotion all the patients have had was the hope to receive the good news that, “the test results are negative.” In other words, they did not have the virus.
Now, normally something negative is bad, right? You get turned down for a job, you fail an exam, you propose to your girlfriend and she says no. All bad news! But in these days of the plague, everything’s been upside down. We’ve had to get used to the idea that something negative can be good; that something negative is actually positive!
It seems to me that there’s a lesson here for our spiritual lives. When negative things come our way – and in life there are many of them – can we learn to turn them into something positive? What are some of the negative experiences we encounter? The death of a loved one, a serious illness, a family problem, concerns about the state of the world, a relentless moral struggle, come quickly to mind. We all have negative experiences, but the question is: How do we handle them when they occur?
Our Christian faith tells us that negative things can actually be positive. “Why do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom?” Thomas á Kempis wrote. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” Job said as he praised God in the midst of his horrible suffering. (Job 1: 21)
The ultimate experience of a negative becoming a positive is the Cross of Jesus Christ. In his Passion, Jesus “emptied himself, humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross. But because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” (Phil 2: 7-9) Jesus was humbled, but God exalted him. A negative to a positive. And through his suffering and death Jesus brought about the forgiveness of sins and opened the doors of heaven to all mankind. Because Jesus died, we have life! How’s that for a turnaround?
Something to think about: Pray for the faith that helps you to see that when something negative comes your way, it could actually be something positive.


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