I meet with a small group of close brothers every Sunday at 7:00 a.m. in a local Panera. We share life and learning at a level that only comes from long-term earned respect and trust. We more than casually call ourselves “The Tunnel Boys.” We’re currently chewing our way through “Shattered Dreams” by Larry Crabb, one stick of triple thick jerky at a time. This is a book I do not recommend to many – it’s difficult enough to chew much less swallow. I read a quote out loud this morning:
“Whatever the angel said to strengthen Jesus, the effect was surprising. I would have expected Him to dry His eyes, smile bravely, and get on with His mission. But instead Jesus cried harder, so hard that His sweat became like drops of blood. That happened after He was strengthened. Perhaps we’re meant to learn that the richest hope permits the deepest suffering, which releases the strongest power, which then produces the greatest joy. Maybe there is no shortcut to joy. Maybe God sometimes frustrates our desire to experience Him in order to deepen it… And then, at some point, Jesus did stop crying. The season of anguish yielded to calm resolve.”
Calm resolve. Peace of heart and mind. I’m reminded of one of my heroes – Admiral William Stockdale. Stockdale was the highest ranking POW in Viet Nam. He spent over six years in a concentration camp with a number of other courageous comrades. When asked how he survived that long in tortuous captivity, he responded with this statement that has since earned the title of “The Stockdale Paradox”:
On the one hand, we stoically accepted the brutal facts of our reality. On the other hand, we maintained an unwavering faith in the endgame, and that we would prevail.
For over 50 years my definition of hope was the anticipation that life “here” will get better. According to Crabb, and Admiral Stockdale for that matter, that’s a illusion from the Imperious Illusionist himself. Life may not get better HERE, but it will THERE. Life, even life difficulty and pain can be preparation HERE for full participation THERE.
Can we face this reality with “calm resolve” and/or “stoic acceptance”? I struggle with this on a daily basis – but the truth remains; “The richest hope permits the deepest suffering, which releases the strongest power, which then produces the greatest joy.” To which I say to myself – “Take that jerky, Mr. Sapp, and chew on it.”