Let's play a little game of complete the phrase.
"When the going gets tough, the tough get ____________"
Have you ever considered how different this would be if you added a word after going?
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going home."
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going to bed."
Or how about?
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going to a cave."
I'm in the middle of preparing a couple sermons on Samson. If you're not familiar with this lovable Old Testament Judge then let me briefly summarize his life:
And angle told his parents they would have a son and he was to be a Nazarene. That meant, no cutting the hair, no eating or drinking anything off of a grape vine and a few other rules. His first marriage didn't survive the wedding feast. He was to be married to a Philistine woman, but at the wedding he posed a riddle to his supplied attendants hoping to get rich of them. The riddle was good, so good they couldn't answer it without help. They threatened to kill Samson's wife and family if she didn't get the answer for them. She turned on the waterworks and he gave up the answer and as a result had to pay the guests. To pay them he went out and robbed and killed a bunch of their country men. Then he took off. Thinking that she was abandoned and left for good, her father married her off to someone else--Samson's best man. Some time later Samson returned to get his wife and when he found out she was married to someone else he snapped. He tied torches to 150 pairs of foxes and let them loose in their fields destroying their crops. Because of this the Philistines killed Samson's "wife" and her father by setting them on fire. This prompts Samson to go on a rampage killing many Philistines. Later he kills a thousand Philistines with a donkey's jaw bone. To escape capture he once tore the towns gate from the wall, posts and all, and carried it to the top of a hill.
Undoubtedly Samson is a pretty tough guy.
I wouldn't want to pick a fight with him.
As a kid in Sunday school we'd hear the stories of Samson and marvel at his strength. He was the tough guy who knocked down a temple. We'd get a King James Bible because instead of donkey it said ass.*
As a teen and young adult, Samson's life was always held out as an example of what not to do. Don't lust after women. Don't seek revenge. Don't be impulsive.
Now it's seems Samson did nothing right.
He's become the poster child of what not to do.
Yet, he was God's chosen. Not only was he chosen, Samson was made specifically to be the leader of Israel. He was God's chosen to lead his chose people.
I would love to speak positively of Samson. I'd love to be able to say look at Samson he did this right.
I'd love it if these two sermons on Samson aren't prepetuations of the same old.
But I'm kinda stuck.
He fails to grasp hold of every positive in his life.
His life was full of grace. Yet he's constantly living in his own strength and capabilities instead of seeing what God can do.
He's given leadership of God's people, yet instead of inspriring and calling them to action, he goes out alone. The only time he seems to unite Israel is when 3,000 of them band to gether to hand him over to the Philistines.
Then again, maybe it's just how you spin it.
Samson was a strong leader who led all of Israel out from the oppression of the Philistines. He united them in a common cause. He amazed all, and thousands would gather to see him perform simple tasks like grinding grain. It was said of him that even his death was a victory.
Okay, I'm not giving up the search for the positive just yet.
*Yes, yes it was a Baptist Church.