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Unquenchable optimism

Looking for examples of authenticity? Go to the Bible

Issue: "The Purge," Sept. 12, 2009

Ray Stedman writes in Authentic Christianity that the first mark of such authenticity is "unquenchable optimism."

Unquenchable: "unable to be extinguished, terminated, destroyed, or satisfied."

Optimism: "an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome."

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Joseph had unquenchable optimism when he went from favored son to Egyptian jailbird, and he just kept doing his little prison jobs, one day at a time, because he knew he had a prophecy hovering over him (Genesis 39-50).

Moses' mom had unquenchable optimism when she thought it might just work to fashion a floating device and launch her son down the river (Exodus 2:2-3).

Caleb had unquenchable optimism when the other spies to Canaan said it was not realistic to attack at this time, and he said, like a choir boy, yippee, let's do it! (Numbers 13:30).

Manoah's wife had unquenchable optimism when her husband thought they were going to die because they had seen an angel, and she sensibly said, "If the Lord had meant to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these" (Judges 13:23).

Even Samson, when he had made a mess of his whole life, and squandered his calling, and was broken and blind and in ankle irons pushing a grinding wheel around in circles- even he thought it was worth a try to call on the Lord one more time and ask for favor (Judges 16:28).

Jonathan had unquenchable optimism when he and his armor bearer broke off from the moribund Israelite army during Philistine occupation, saying, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few" (1 Samuel 14:6).

David had unquenchable optimism when Philistia was spanking Israel's finest (1 Samuel 17:26). And when the King asked him how a runt like him could kill a giant, he said because he used to kill lions and bears when they threatened the herd, and Goliath would be just like one of them (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

Elisha had unquenchable optimism when even the prophets kept telling him to give up following Elijah, but he wouldn't because he thought he might just get a double portion of blessing (2 Kings 2).

Mordecai had unquenchable optimism. What else can you say about a guy living in exile, with a contract on his head, who mulls over his cousin's fluky positioning at court and says to her: "Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).

Ezra had unquenchable optimism when he decided not to ask the king for an escort of soldiers to help them against bandits on the road from Persia to Israel, because he had bragged to the king that God would protect them (Ezra 8:22).

Simeon and Anna had unquenchable optimism when they grew old coming to the Temple every day, because they figured that one of these days the Messiah would show up (Luke 2).

A woman in Israel had unquenchable optimism when she thought if she only touched Jesus' cloak she would be healed of a 12-year disease that none of her doctors had been able to cure (Mark 5).

Paul had unquenchable optimism when he decided that his sitting in jail was a clever strategy on God's part for spreading the gospel to Caesar's household (Philippians 1:12-13; 4:22).

And Paul had unquenchable optimism when only decades after Christ's resurrection the church seemed to be coming unglued in Corinth and Galatia, and others wanted to go back to the old-time religion of slaughtering bulls and goats. He scolded them but expected better things.

I'll bet if someone like Caleb or Jonathan or Paul were not able to sleep worth a fig for the past five years, they would say to themselves something like, "Gee, I wonder if God is preparing me for some endurance test in the future where it will be an advantage to have learned how to make do with 4 hours of sleep a night."
If you have a question or comment for Andrée Seu, send it to aseu@worldmag.com.
To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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