By Bob Dees
Consider the 1945 rescue and repatriation of the Bataan Death March survivors who had been brutally tortured and malnourished at the Cabanatuan prison camp in the Philippines:
A convoy of large troop-carrying trucks motored down the road and halted alongside the column. The prisoners were told to vacate their oxcarts and climb aboard. For the last ten miles into Guimba, they stood up and clung to the side boards. They rode as champions at the end of a long campaign, inspecting the new world from a high perch. The roads were lined with thousands of GIs who waved at them and threw candy and cigarettes. They were speeding to a place that had medicines and hot food, clean quarters with soft cots and cool fans and cold beer. They were seven thousand miles from home, but they’d passed again into America.
~ Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides, Chapter 13, Anchor Books, 2002.
Having just read Ghost Soldiers (I highly recommend!), an amazing account of the inspiring RESILIENCE of the Cabanatuan POWs and their historic rescue by the 6th Ranger Battalion and their Philippine cohorts, I am prompted to provide a brief reflection:
- The men who were engulfed in the unavoidable Sixth Army surrender of U.S. forces on Bataan in 1942 were valiant warriors overtaken by the tide of evil which swept across the Pacific Theatre in WWII. Yet, they remained faithful to their high calling as Army soldiers. In essence, they were true Resilient Warriors. These noble servants of nation and one another survived the most brutal conditions; yet they became national icons of courage and patriotism, contributing members to all segments of society (for those who lived through the experience), and true Profiles in Resilience who inspire others who pause to listen and learn from their profound example.
Similarly, all of us are subject to the unexpected challenges of life. One day the sun is shining; the next we are in a torrential downpour of pain, despair, discouragement, tragedy, disaster – In the world we will have tribulation … Jesus, John 16:33a. In a spiritual sense, we are all prisoners of war until Jesus rescues us (For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13, NASB). Even after we are freed men and women in Christ, redeemed and forgiven; we are nevertheless called and required to be resilient in the many storms of life.
This reality of life commands our attention, compelling us to ask some simple, yet profound, questions: Am I ready for my next body slam of life? If I am closer to an egg than a tennis ball, what can I do to build bounce in my life? How do I become more resilient?
Certainly you can turn to the pages of Resilience God Style or the RGS website (www.ResilienceGodStyle.com) for specific steps to build resilience, but no doubt many of you have learned life lessons that help you weather the storms of life. No doubt you also have inspiring stories of overcoming, and/or spiritual wisdom that will help us all get better, wiser, stronger through the adversities of life.
- Although there are numerous other observations we will milk from the Cabanatuan POWs in future blogs, let’s fast forward to the other side of their fearful tribulation. As quoted above, “They rode as champions at the end of a long campaign, inspecting the new world from a high perch”. In essence, these resilient warriors were starting to regain their vital optimism, starting to get spring back in their step, growing in hope that their ordeal was over.
In similar fashion, after each of us go through a body slam, we can spiral into bitterness or grow in hope and optimism. The key question is How do I bounce back without getting stuck in the toxic emotions of guilt, false, guilt, anger, and bitterness? While there are some useful techniques contained in RGS resources, the ultimate miracle occurs when we lean into God in the aftermath of personal tragedy. Inexplicably and almost imperceptibly, our Creator God begins to restore us, allowing us to regain our vital optimism, learn to sing a new song, revalidate God’s plans for our future, and comfort others with that which we have been comforted. As in the Book of Zechariah (4:6), the true healing is “not by power, or by might, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord.”
Then, we also can ride as “champions at the end of a long campaign, inspecting the new world from a high perch.” This is Resilience God Style!
What do YOU think?
How do you build bounce in your life?
How have you been able to regain “vital optimism” after a body slam?
Tell us about it.