Positive Amid Negative

Well, which is it? ±?

On the morning when we were supposed to be on our way to AK for volunteer service work, Wife decided to do a COVID-19 home test.

D-minus-3 days before, she had been en route back home from a late-developing work trip in NV and had started feeling an ache in her mouth. D-2 days before, she had gotten an emergency dentist appointment. An x-ray revealed an abscess that would need a root canal which would have to wait until after our 16-day trip. She would get a course of antibiotic in the meantime. D-1 day before, she was in pain and feeling kind of dopey. D-day, she got to wondering about the dopey—after all, she had just returned from that work trip and her boss’s husband had been diagnosed with COVID-19 (though Boss had tested negative). Still, Wife had been nervous about being with them. Maybe that nervousness was justified. There’s no certainty, but it’s possible Boss had been carrying COVID-19 with a negative test result, after all. D-day, the fact was that Wife now had positive results for COVID-19. And I had close exposure.

During a prompt call to our service team leader, it was very clear that we would not be traveling D-day and that we might be departing on D-plus-5 at best. That reality now left team leader flying solo To (literally) and In (figuratively) Anchorage in preparation for our entry to the interior a week later.

People around me have heard me say that I consider myself a positivist. That’s as opposed to being an optimist. Optimism is about looking forward and anticipating good. Positivism is a system of thinking within Western philosophy (oddly[?] very academic). I think of it more in experiential ways and find significance in it being backward looking and then seeing good in what others might otherwise see as bad.

There is a biblical proof text validating a positivist mentality which comes from ROM 8:28 that says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV). A positivist mentality looks for and sees the good in the workings together, specifically when it’s within the context of loving God and working according to his purpose. When the workings together are for the purpose of teaching about God through Jesus—our intent in Alaska—then there is good for us to find, even if we can’t see it in the process: like the process of trying to get to the place where we intend to do it.

The Christian Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, speaks abundantly to hardship and God’s sustaining power throughout. The classic example is when the Israelites flee the Egyptians during the exodus which culminates in the parting of the Red Sea. It took a while for them then to reach the land that God promised (including 40 years of aimless-looking wandering), but they merely needed to trust God’s assurance that he would get them there. That’s positivism. In a certain sense, the ends justify the means.

At this point in our service trip, things are looking bad. Wife will certainly not recover fully enough to travel before our planned return. I positively need to stay COVID negative (until the 5-day mark after my exposure to Wife while she was sick) if there’s any hope of me going. And then I’ll still need to mask for another 5 more days.

The “challenge virus”-exposure test will return a positive, though. So with no hint of the skepticism that often accompanies the following words, I can say: This ought to be good.

[2022’06’29’W: Added] More posts about Faith and Native Alaska (which mostly means the same things, at least as of this writing.)


Lexico. (n.d.). Optimism. In Lexico.com dictionary. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/optimism
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. (n.d.). Positivism. In Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/positivism
Fairlex, Inc. (n.d.). This ought to be good. In The Free Dictionary. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/This+ought+to+be+good!




One thought on “Positive Amid Negative

  1. I remember this when I happened in real time! How frustrated I can get when “my plans” are knocked off course. How long of a lesson (still learning) to trust in God’s Sovereign hand when ‘my plans’ get changed. As I recall Barb and Calvin handled this with much confidence in that hidden hand of God and the local team had to step up in ways they would not otherwise have to. Getting this local team to ‘own’ more of the ongoing mission is a good goal and effort, lest they be too reliant on outsiders help. In any case, none of this (including virus) surprises God. Indeed we can be confident He will use it to accomplish ‘His plan”.

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