2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest
ranking Naval officer at the time of his capture by the enemies during
the Vietnam War. When his aircraft was hit by enemy fire, he ejected
from the plane and parachuted into a village where he was captured. For
the next seven and one-half years he was a prisoner of war. During
those years, he was tortured physically and emotionally. His arms were
twisted until they were dislocated from the sockets and he was severely
beaten. Because he was a high ranking military official, his torture
was more severe than the other POWs. In the midst of it all, he served
as an encourager to the other prisoners instilling in them mental
fortitude by reminding them of their naval code of honor.
endured. He persevered. He stated after his release that he would not
trade the experience because it was a defining event in his life.
am captivated by his statement regarding the lesson he wants others to
glean from such an experience, "you must never confuse faith that you
will prevail in the end-which you can never afford to lose-with the
discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality,
whatever they might be".
Read that again and process what he is saying.
Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great
refers to this principle as the Stockdale Paradox. In his situation of
torture and possible death at the hands of his enemy, Stockdale
remained confident that he would endure. It seems contradictory that a
person can have such hope in the midst of such agonizing persecution.
duality of his statement exemplifies the type of faith that we must
possess. Most of us will never have the experiences that he endured and
I thank God for that. However, in this world of brutal realities, we
do need to develop the same attitude of faith and perseverance. Each
day, we face enemy territory where the spiritual battles are real. The
facts around us can cause us to feel as if our efforts to work for God
We must hold firmly to the belief
that we will prevail in the end by holding on to our faith and trust in
God. We have a commitment to continue to work for God even when things
around seem bleak and without hope. Even when our current reality is
filled with pain, sorrow, or uncertainty, we must stand firm and carry