In 1965, naval aviator, James B. Stockdale became one of the first American pilots to be shot down during the Vietnam Conflict. As a prisoner of the Vietcong he spent seven years as a P.O.W. during which he was often tortured in an attempt to break him and get him to denounce the U.S. involvement in the war. He was chained for days at a time with his hands above his head so that he could not even swat the mosquitoes. Today he still cannot bend his left knee and he walks with a severe limp from having his leg broken by his captors and never reset. One of the worst things done to him was that he was held in isolation away from the other American P.O.W.s and allowed to see only his guards and interrogators.
How could anyone survive seven years of such treatment? As he looks back on that time, Stockdale says that it was his hope that kept him alive. Hope of one day going home and that each day could be the day of his release. Without hope, he knew that he would die in hopelessness, as others had done.
Such is the power of hope that it can keep us alive when nothing else can. "For we are saved by hope," writes Paul, "but hope that is seen is not hope" (Romans 8:24). So, hope cannot be seen by the naked eye; but, it is observed with the mind's eye. Everything around you can be in turmoil, but you have peace because your inner eye sees something super. Hope is a strong medicine. It can keep us resolute and focused.
Victor Frankl, successor of Sigmund Freud, states that the loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect on man. As a result of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, Frankl contends that when a man no longer possesses a motive for living and no future to look toward, he curls up in a corner and dies. So, hopelessness can create premature death, but hope has the power to cause a person to try and try again until he gets what he has envisioned.
I would have to say that hope equals purpose, purpose develops passion, and passion is the fuel that propels us toward our vision. It's the steam in our engine. The magnitude of hope is far reaching. Know this! God is the founder of hope! People who serve Him without reservation have much of it. Their service to Him gives them great boldness to conquer any mountain. They believe that nothing is too difficult. Now, hope does not make life easier for them it just makes life much more exciting and inspiring.
The Apostle Paul had lots of it: 5 times he was beaten by the Jews. 3 times he was beaten with rods, stoned once, and suffered shipwreck 3 times. He was weary, in pain, hungry and thirsty, cold and naked yet he glorified the Lord. Hope was greater than any adversity. He could not be made to be discouraged. He was like a missile that was dialed in to its target. With so much bad news going on today, it's imperative to keep hope alive. This is the objective of the Bible and the church: to give hope to all! For more info you can visit us at www.JoyChristianMinistries.
Pastor J.C. Myers, III
Pastor J.C. founded Joy Christian Ministries in 1992. He was Sr. Pastor at Joy Christian Ministries in West Sacramento, California from 1992-2016. He was succeeded by his 2nd son, Pastor Brandon Myers who had been under his father's ministry and teaching for 39 years.