Author and speaker Tommy Tenney invites readers to believe God to accomplish the impossible in their lives. Specifically, Tenney asserts that God can and will afford believers the chance for the ultimate comeback. It doesn't matter what setbacks a Christian is facing down; with God's enablement nothing is too dark, distressing or disabling for Him to prevail over.
Tenney forms much of his text around the biblical story of Elisha's servant, Gehazi, whose deliberate disobedience and greed ushered in the most hideous punishment of that day: leprosy. Ironically, this affliction was the very disease from which the wealthy Naaman (and from whom Gehazi illicitly stole) was just healed: "Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever." Writes Tenney, "...one error in judgment, one bad decision, and life as he (Gehazi) knew it was over." While Elisha pronounced judgment on his erring servant, God allows careful readers to watch as the drama of Gehazi's life unfolds over the coming years. Tenney continually challenges believers not to count Gehazi down and out, for God eventually turns the table and gives Gehazi another opportunity to redeem himself.
Tenney skillfully depicts the surrounding climate of the times and fills in the blanks so that interested readers can see how mistakes in error and judgment can snowball into a series of pain and suffering. While Gehazi failed at the outset, Tenney tells today's believer to obey God in all areas of life. Gehazi coveted the "blessings" of the good life but was willing to compromise truth to obtain it. Likewise, he exhorts readers to obey God, and thereby give God an excuse to bless. Lest some think that Tenney is pitching a formulaic, no-fail guide to "getting from God," the remainder of the text details how those who walk toward God will suffer along the way.
Asserting that God does His best work in secret throughout scripture, Tenney shares the unlikely coinciding events of Esther's strategic placement in the palace, Samson's inward character flaws and John Mark's inability to withstand the rigors of being a traveling evangelist. Yet God worked through these unlikely people, despite their fears and failings, and He made up the difference in every situation. Similarly, God used Gehazi's years as a leper to change and refine his character. Placed in yet another "tempting" position to profit by another's loss, Gehazi makes the right choice and God heals him.
In sum, Tenney shares that part of the process of making an ultimate comeback from financial woes, ill health or relational breakdowns is embracing the supposition that the "gift of failure" is one of the best learning tools in life. Writes Tenney, "failure is often the womb of success." He provides a detailed look at one of the most overlooked biblical characters and offers a fresh take on this man's mistakes, pain and eventual redemption. One of Tenney's most telling statements for today's Christian is to make sure to pass the test when it comes around a second time.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on January 2, 2007