I think we can all feel at times like there is a roaring lion preying upon us. Life is like that. I recently watched the movie UNBROKEN. It is a true story of an Olympic athlete who went into the service and got captured by the Japanese in WW2 when his bomber was shot down over the ocean.
He and two of his crew survived for 45 days in a raft, living off of raw fish they caught by hand and drinking rain water they captured in canteens. If that was not horrific enough, they got picked up by the Japanese and put into a prison camp that was run by a sadist officer. He seemed to take great pleasure in torturing the prisoners, especially Louie Zamperini.
I thought about how I might have handled that type of trial, and frankly, I pray I never have to find out. The beatings he took were brutal. The conditions they lived in were abominable. The outlook was bleak, to say the least. It would have been very easy for the men to give up, and I am sure many did.
You know what kept Louie going while he was living in hell? His faith. He had faith that God would deliver him at some point, and he had an unquenchable faith in himself. I think that was the part that really touched my heart. He believed in himself partially because his brother believed in him totally. That says a lot about the power we have to speak life into others, does it not?
When the war was over and Louie went home to his family, he still had the demons of war to battle with. He finally decided he would only find peace one way…not through revenge, but through forgiveness. He actually went back to Japan and had the opportunity to run in the Olympics in the very town where he was held captive. He met with the captors that had held him and his men. But you know who the one man was that refused to meet with him? The officer that was the sadist! He refused to meet with Louie…even though Louie just wanted to forgive him.
I saw an interview with the Japanese officer and he justified his actions as being appropriate for war time and that the beatings and kicking of prisoners was not unusual in the Japanese culture. That is pretty scary in and of itself! Oddly enough, he was in hiding as a wartime criminal until the US government forgave him. He had the forgiveness of the US government and the forgiveness of Louie, but I think maybe….just maybe, he could not accept responsibility because the guilt he would have to bear would be unimaginable.
The moral to the story here is that when you are being preyed upon, pray. Pray for those that use and abuse you. Pray that God help them see the damage they are doing and that you be delivered. Louie was a real life hero for many reasons. He was not perfect by any means. He had flaws like all of us, but he had heart. He had resolve. He had faith…in God and in himself.
I do not pray for smooth roads ahead for you or for me. I know that is wishful thinking and unrealistic. We will have some smooth roads ahead, but we will also have some rough ones. What I pray for is that my faith (and yours) be sufficient to weather the storms that we face. In the end, our faith (or lack of it) will be the thing that draws us closer to God…or sets us further adrift in the ocean of life. It will be the thing that saves us, or sinks us.