This week we are looking at the value of hope. We ask the question, “What do you hope for?”
In Jim Collins' book ‘Good to Great’, he recalls a conversation he had with a soldier in Vietnam, named James Stockdale. Stockdale recalled the difficulties he had faced in his eight years of imprisonment. He shared the difficulty that so many faced, not knowing when they would be released from their suffering. Many did not survive the eight-year ordeal and Stockdale made a paradoxical observation of those who were lost. This has been come to known as ‘The Stockdale Paradox’.
I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”
“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused.
“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
What do you hope for? What do you put your hope in?
In Proverbs 13:12, we read of the wisdom of Solomon – “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
If you have been around long enough, I’m sure you will have experienced both the pain and discomfort of your hopes not being fulfilled when you wanted, as well as the joy of an answered prayer. Today, reflect on your current hopes as well as the experience of James Stockdale who endured suffering and overcame.
Finally, remember the promise that, when you put your hope in God, he has promised to give you renewed strength, through your trials and pain.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”