Hey there, my Dear brother in Christ. I hope you are well.
This is a very powerful teaching you are putting on us. One needful, too, in these often difficult times.
Is there anything more discouraging to a child than for a parent to humiliate him or her by telling them they cannot do such and such a thing? Play guitar, reach some goal, or make good grades, for example. Then, the child often just gives up...
Thankfully, God does not use this approach on His children. Rather, he tells us what do to and promises that he will give us both the desire and the ability and the final success.
Back to Howard Snyder again, look at this highly optimistic quote from a book he just reviewed on his blog called: The Patient Ferment of the Early Church.
One of the pleasant surprises (to me) in the book is now consistently and insistently the church in its first three centuries kept pointing to Jesus Christ and especially to the Sermon on the Mount. Another surprise was how important Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 continued to be, with their promise of the Messiah and the day when the Lord “shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (quoted, pp. 91-92). Origen said this text (that is, Isa. 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-4) “is one that all believers knew.”
Dan, you are a musician yourself. Why do some many (not all, thankfully) modern Christian songs fail to communicate any of this optimism? This optimism about Jesus building his church and the gates of Hell not being able to stop it! This optimism about a vast multitude out of every tribe, tongue and nation which... no many can number! No man can number the saints because they are the true children of Abraham - as the sands of the seas and stars of the heavens.
Praise his mighty name!