Today is the day we observe Veteran's Day in the USA. I thought it an appropriate time to revisit a piece I wrote several years ago for a devotional DVD entitled "Anchored"- a collection of faith-based thoughts taken from experiences I had, and people I met during my thirty years as a television journalist. Retired LCDR Ralph Gaither is one of those people. He survived 7-plus years in a POW camp, and went onto share the faith that took him through that nightmare. Thank you, sir, for your service and your story of faith. Thank you... to all of you who serve and protect the United States of America.
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
He spent more than seven years locked away in a Hanoi prison cell. This brave U.S. Navy fighter pilot was shot down during a combat mission over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. In this hell on earth known as a POW camp, he endured physical and mental torture, isolation, hunger, and more stress than any human being should be allowed. But, he told me that no matter how horrific the situation, he never lost sight of his belief that God was in control and would see him through.
Ralph Gaither (now a retired lieutenant commander) told me his story, more than thirty years after his capture. As I listened, I marveled at the strength of this man’s faith, and how it had sustained him during what must have been a terrifying, seemingly impossible and inescapable situation.
In the gospel of Mark, we read the account of a man who was also in what appeared to be an impossible situation. He’d requested Jesus to come to his house and heal his dying daughter. She perished while they were on the way.
But, Jesus was in control.
He simply said to the man, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Then, according to Mark, Jesus brought the girl back to life. It was a miracle, as they say, of ‘Biblical proportions.’
It’s likely that my faith, and your faith, will never be supercharged by such an extraordinary event as the one Mark describes. But our faith can be strengthened by the ‘ordinary miracles’ that take place all around us: a healthy birth, a fever that breaks, a love that’s fulfilled, a marriage that’s saved, a child’s first tooth, an Alzheimer’s patient’s flash of memory, a disease that goes into remission, a successful surgery. And, in the case of the faithful fighter pilot, an eventual release from the nightmare of solitary confinement in a POW cell.
When you encounter trouble, or a fearful situation, remember that God is in control. And it is not a ‘remote’ control. He is as close as a whispered prayer. Pray for your own faith to be strengthened. Ask for guidance, wisdom and power to get you through your situation, one day-- one step-- one breath at a time.Ralph Gaither's book, published in 1974, is available at amazon.com. You should get it.