Tag Archives: optimism

“As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me — even Phygelus and Hermogenes.  May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me.  He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.  When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.  May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return.  And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.”  (2 Timothy 1:15-18, NIV)

As we can see from today’s scripture reading, even the best of people have bad experiences with friends and associates.  Clearly, Paul was grieved by the desertions of “everyone from the province of Asia” in general; and the desertion of Phygelus and Hermogenes, in particular.

However, he is cheered by the kindnesses of Onesiphorus.

It is telling that Paul uses more than twice the number of words recalling the faithfulness of Onesiphorus than he does for the failures of Phygelus, Hermogenes, and all of the other folks in the Asia province.  Although Paul never denied the reality of the negative, he chose to spend a lot more time — and words — dwelling on the positive.  So should we.  – Luther

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“And he led them out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.  And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.  Amen.”  (Luke 24:50-53, NIV)
For the disciples of Jesus, Jerusalem had been the site of many tragic events over the previous days.  In fact, with the death of Jesus, it seemed that all of their dreams had been dashed; and that all of their plans had been trashed.
In the light of the Resurrection, however, they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”  We can only imagine what the outsiders must have thought about the disciples of Jesus as they saw them in the temple; joyful and praising and blessing God.  Perhaps they thought: “Aren’t these the disciples of the man who was crucified on Friday?  Why is it that they are now so bright and optimistic?”
The answer then, as now, is this: He lives!
The Resurrection of our Lord trumps every sorrow and redeems every failure.  The Resurrection enables us to return to the scene of our greatest humiliation with great joy and confidence.  To live in the light of the Resurrection is to truly live!  – Luther
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“Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.” (Proverbs 24: 19-20, NIV)

When it seems that evil and the servants of evil have gotten the upper hand, the word of God reminds us to “not fret” because “the evildoer has no future hope.”

The resistance of evil can be wearying to the spirit because there never seems to be an end to it.  Evil seems to be everywhere and in everything; and its agents seem to thwart even the smallest grace.

Even so, remain faithful to the word of God and to the leading of the spirit of God.  There is no future in the practice of wickedness; and there is no hope for the agents of evil.  The extent to which we are able to confront evil without becoming like it; and to resist evil without losing heart, is a measure of our faith.  – Luther

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