Several years ago, Woody Allen began a commencement address with this observation: "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." Although said with his typical humor, Allen's observation captures the despair that many today feel. Whether through personal tragedies or global warning, the end, many feel, is right around the corner. Fears of the future loom large while hope wanes. Enter the American optimist—the particular variety of human being who is awash in positive thoughts about life, the future, health, money, relationships, and supremely themselves. To such an upbeat, look on the bright side kind of person, every day is full of possibilities, and the crucial factor they would say, between a knowing cynicism of hopelessness and a glowing confidence of the Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen type is simply you. You are the crucial factor. It is your characteristics. It is your faith, your courage, your daring, your willingness to risk, to stand firm, to be faithful to your religion or your own personal dreams. You make all the difference. Where would they turn in the Bible to find evidence for such fate-shaping faith?
Well, how about a book where tragedies turn to triumph, integrity is kept, courage is shown, risk is accepted, death is mocked through fire-resistant, lions' mouth-closing faith. To people who want examples of how to live in the world without being of the world and yet do pretty well by the world, what book more regularly provides encouragement? Who else in the Bible has the courage of a Nathan combined with the success of ...
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