Overcoming Suffering: The Freedom of Forgiveness and Faith
One of the biggest and most difficult questions that plague a lot of Christians is the question of achieving true unshakable unfaltering faith. When things are going well in our lives, it seems far more straightforward, but when suffering plagues our families, violence touches our loved ones, the disease strikes someone we’re close to, maintaining faith might appear a little more difficult. When our lives move into a period of darkness or suffering, it’s easy to falter in our relationship and communication with God. Yet, there is no shortage of stories throughout human history that show us just how much the human heart can withstand and overcome when filled with faith. A few years ago, the story of one Louis Zamperini was brought to the big screen thanks to director Angelina Jolie. The story is based on the book titled, Unbroken, written by Laura Hillenbrand.
The Plot — An Unimaginable Story of Suffering
The story of Louis Zamperini is one of those stories that shakes people to the core and serves as a reminder of just how much evil and suffering is possible in the world. The novel takes place in World War II, in the Pacific Theater. History tells us that the Japanese were quite the frightful enemy, ruthless, and capable of incredible cruelty. Louis Zamperini was a California native that was quite rambunctious as a child. He stole, he got into fights, and he lashed out, but with a little push from his brother Pete gave running a shot. Zamperini discovered that he had a great ability for running and made it to the Olympics. Like many great athletes of the time, Zamperini joined the war effort and ended up as a bombardier on the famous B-24s.
One faithful day, the airplane in which he was flying was shot down and crashed down into the ocean. Only three men survived, one of them was Louis Zamperini. He and the three men floated on the raft for more than forty days until they were captured by Japanese soldiers and taken in as POWS. The days on the raft brought sheer terror and panic, as sharks continuously circled around and food and water were scarce. While on the raft Louis Zamperini makes a promise to God that if he got him out of this, he will serve him forever.
As if starving on a raft fighting off sharks wasn’t enough, the two surviving members go through horrific conditions, torture, starvation, disease, and mistreatment at the hands of their Japanese captors. Louis Zamperini was especially tortured by one of his captors and endured unrelenting abuse.
Spoiler alert! Louis Zamperini survives and comes back to the United States after the war. Once back home, Zamperini suffers from flashbacks, depression, and spirals into a world of hurt and drinking. He is uncontrollable and a wreck and is taking his wife and child with him. He also becomes obsessed with murdering one of his captors and the thought hurls him into a life of chaos, bad business ventures, nightmares, and more drinking.
At some point, his wife convinces him to go and listen to a Christian speaker named Billy Graham. At first, Louis reacts with anger, and then slowly his heart opens up to the message. He remembers the promise he made to God while on the raft and is suddenly filled with elation and a sense of relief. Slowly, Louis Zamperini allowed himself to forgive his captors and the people that harmed him so. Even after he goes to the prison where they are held, he shakes his captors’ hands and forgives them.
The Freedom of Forgiveness and Faith
As Louis allows God back into his life, his faith is restored. The ability to forgive allows him to be free. Suddenly he is able to sleep and rest again without the aching thought for revenge. One of the stories that takes him over the edge is John 8: 1-11 about the woman found in adultery and Jesus challenge to the men that want to stone her:
“All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
All of the accusers retreat.
Most people’s stories might not involve being a prisoner of war or facing sharks or enemy fire in the Pacific, but all of our lives are fraught with challenges and moments of despair and uncertainty. Faith takes work and it involves maintaining the Word of God in our hearts without faltering. It involves doing the work of praying and talking to God in our darkest and brightest hours. For years, Louis Zamperini lost his faith and responded with anger at anything that involved the talk of God or his Word, but in the end, it was opening his heart to the possibility that God really does care about all of our lives, about what we do and how we react, that allowed him to free himself from the shackles of anger.
To those who have wronged us, it is important that we forgive. Sometimes the person that we must forgive is ourselves. Regardless of who it is, a loved one who has betrayed us or someone who abandoned us, the art of forgiveness brings faith that much closer.
Come See Us and Open Your Heart to What’s Possible
With the Word and guidance of God, true freedom is possible. This material world has a lot that holds us back from understanding the complex hand that God plays in our lives. Here at Faith Miracle, we can help you find the path that will lead you to your unshakable faith. We only guide you along, the journey must be done by you alone. If you feel you are shackled to anger or a sense of rage, come by today and listen to Jesus’ teachings.