Why You Should Be Optimistic About the Future

9 stats that show major improvements being made in the world.

Reading news headlines, it’s easy to get pessimistic about the state of world affairs. On a near daily basis, there are reports of violence, tragedies and injustice. As Christians, this should be concerning, and it should prompt us to take action to help those who are suffering.

But, we must also remember that we are called to hope. And part of that hope is recognizing not only the bad news, but also celebrating the good news.

Yes, we should stay vigilant, fight injustice and seek new ways to serve those in need in help. But fear, pessimism and misplaced outrage are the wrong approach to taking action. Instead, we are called to have “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

After all, redeeming brokenness is what Jesus was all about.

Here’s a look at nine stats that show why we should approach 2016 with optimism about the future. They aren’t reasons to be complacent about problems or issues facing communities around the world; but they're reminders of how far we’ve come, and how much further we need to go.

You Are Living in the Most Peaceful Time in Human History

Though the global human population has never been higher, you are statistically less likely to die from an act of violence than any other time in history.

Global Hunger Is on the Decline

Though food shortages are still a serious problem, according to the U.N., 200 million fewer people currently go malnourished than 25 years ago.

In Many Parts of the World, the Infant Mortality Rate Has Never Been Lower

As a WHO report noted, the global child mortality fell rate by 49 percent between 1990 and 2013.

The Global Literacy Rate Is 84 Percent

Though hundreds of millions still lack basic literacy skills, there have been major improvements: The global literacy rate was just 66 percent in 1957.

The Bible Is Becoming More Accessible

Parts of the Bible have now been translated into more than 2,900 languages, and the free YouVersion Bible app has been downloaded more than 136 million times.

The Abortion Rate in America Is at an All-Time Low

Both teen pregnancies and the overall number of abortions have hit record lows in the U.S.

People Are Living Longer

In the last century and a half, the global life expectancy has doubled.

90 Percent of the Global Population Has Access to Clean Water

Since 1990, 2.6 billion more people have gained access to clean drinking water. And since 2000, the number of children who died because of waterborne illnesses has been cut in half.

Future Generations May Never Experience Extreme Poverty

Though there are currently more than 1 billion people living in extreme poverty, The World Bank say they hope global economic initiatives can eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. In the last 35 years, the number of people living on less than $1.25 (adjusted for inflation) has fallen from 42 percent of the population to 16.9 percent.

Top Comments

John Powell

56

John Powell commented…

Thanks for the positive news and statistics. Behind each of those are real people whose situation is better in certain aspects than earlier generations. There is plenty of bad news and real concerns that will always be with us, and this article seeks to brighten that with a reminder of progress in specific areas. Pay no attention to the naysayers who only see doom and gloom, but seek the betterment of your brother and sister, and keep reporting good stuff when it happens!

Candice Birr

4

Candice Birr commented…

I think it is nice to be reminded of how far things have come. For those getting upset about him "ignoring" all the bad, he stated very clearly that we are NOT meant to ignore the problems, but I know that I needed to be reminded of these things sometimes. Apparently the author felt that way too. We are, after all, preaching and sharing "Good News", and I think sometimes we as a community can get a little bit more "doom and gloom" than is necessary, and it can be deterrent or an obstacle to our faith, both personally and evangelically. He wasn't saying Peace, Peace, Peace, he was pointing out progress, meant to strengthen our resolve. At least, that's how I took it.

16 Comments

Candice Birr

4

Candice Birr commented…

I think it is nice to be reminded of how far things have come. For those getting upset about him "ignoring" all the bad, he stated very clearly that we are NOT meant to ignore the problems, but I know that I needed to be reminded of these things sometimes. Apparently the author felt that way too. We are, after all, preaching and sharing "Good News", and I think sometimes we as a community can get a little bit more "doom and gloom" than is necessary, and it can be deterrent or an obstacle to our faith, both personally and evangelically. He wasn't saying Peace, Peace, Peace, he was pointing out progress, meant to strengthen our resolve. At least, that's how I took it.

Tracy

87

Tracy replied to Candice Birr's comment

Some of us doubt "we as a community can get a little more 'doom and gloom' than is necessary." Especially when the "good news," is told in a way that hides the bad news. (I'm not suggesting this was done intentionally here, only that it happens.) Whenever we celebrate the gains in agriculture, for example, are we accidentally missing the fact that those were attributable to fossil fuels (ploughing and fertilizers) that aren't sustainable, and caused loss of topsoil and the pollution of water supplies that are and will become, terrific problems. The green revolution went beautifully, for a time. But not forever. It will have consequences. Likewise, the rise of China, attributed to economic growth, has rendered its cities uninhabitable. What sort of horror awaits those who left rural areas, and sought a better life in the cities where there are jobs, when they no longer have clean air or water. Or, for example, the fact that Ethiopia is facing catastrophic famine that the world is not yet rallying for -- because as yet, there are no dying children. Humanitarian organizations are terrified that no one will respond until it is too late. The same issue appears to be the case with climate change (not mentioned on this list.) That Miami is not yet under water, -- doesn't mean there aren't significant problems brewing, which will contribute to drought which will contribute to war.

All that said, I believe in noticing the good and celebrating it, but there is a fine line between that and simply being uninformed.

Tim Herndon

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Tim Herndon commented…

The free YouVersion App has been downloaded by more than 200,000,000 people! It's amazing how God is using media and technology to get His truth to the world He loves!

Isaac

1

Isaac commented…

This reminds me of this verse “And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬
I totally understand that many people would push that prophecy to AFTER Christ's return. I would argue you can make a case for it being before...but regardless...my point is that if your eschatology says that everything on the earth will only get worse and worse until Christ's return, it's pretty hard to be hopeful about anything good happening until then!

David Randall

16

David Randall commented…

This is an exceedingly misleading article, constructed to make things look rosy. Let’s just observe a few things. First of all, it is a cherry picked list. You can always find something somewhere that projects a brighter future, and you can always ignore everything to the contrary. That is pretty much what this article does. The other thing of note is that figures cited come from sources that are political in nature, rather than scientific. Examples are: the UN, the WHO, and the World Bank. The source of their data is dubious at best, and they are motivated to construct a case to MAKE THEMSELVES LOOK GOOD. The World Bank says that extreme poverty will be ELIMINATED within 15 years! Tell me you can really say that with a straight face. Finally, there are the claims made on PURE GUESSWORK. The claim that you are less likely to die violently for example is based on a single book by a Harvard Professor who is primarily motivated by the profit from selling a book. It apparently he has all sorts of facts and figures concerning violent death in prior centuries and in parts of the world where no historian was documenting anything. Since no one can offer an true figure, he can make up just about anything. His explanations may or may not have credibility, but they are simply his guesses, not research.

Somewhere I have a graduation address that my mother delivered at her high school graduation in the 1920’s. It gave all the reasons why the world would never again see war on the scale of “the Great War”. She was expressing the common wisdom of the day. Within six years Hitler would become chancellor of Germany. Worldwide people were slaughtered in huge numbers during the two world wars, and compared to periods that include those wars, our current situation is much better, but the author ignores his own advice, “don’t consider that a single point (or two points) is a trend”. Also many deaths due to conflict are not technically “wars”, so what gets counted is a matter of opinion.

People are living longer, and infant mortality is dropping, by virtually any measure, but the rest is dubious. Abortion is currently at a low point compared to WHEN IT WAS FIRST legalized, however it is still staggeringly high, and there is particular reason to believe that it will be a continuing trend, especially if we complacently assume all is well on that front. Also Bibles are certainly more available than ever before. This is in itself a good thing, but unfortunately it does not correlate to how many people are reading them, and even less to how many people live by them. There are many more Bibles in America than there were 50 years ago. But it is also true that far more of them are simply collecting dust.

Finally however, as a Christian publication, “Relevant” should be well aware that the Scripture does paint a picture of a world which is getting “better and better every day and in every way”. There are many doomsayers that predict the end of the world tomorrow and should be taken with many grains of salt, but this sugar-coated propaganda is no better. Shame of you.

RichardL

14

RichardL commented…

Optimism is not a Biblical concept. The Bible speaks only of Hope.

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