Unbroken: A World War II Story About God’s Sovereign and Unrelenting Grace

Last night I finished reading Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. I picked up the paperback edition several years ago on a whim, but only got around to reading it just now.

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I wish I had read it earlier.

It is a deeply moving, extraordinary testament to God’s amazing grace in the life of Olympic runner and war-survivor Louie Zamperini.

Some would have you believe it is otherwise. Some would have you think it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, another testimony in a long line of witnesses proclaiming the indomitable power of will and determination.

Don’t believe them.

It is instead evidence of the stubborn, insuperable, tenacious, and sovereign grace of God that sustains a man through horrific suffering and overcomes a man filled with anger, bitterness, and revenge.

On a May afternoon in 1943, while on a search and rescue mission, Louie’s plane, the Green Hornet, suddenly crashed into the Pacific. For 47 days in a life raft, he was attacked by sharks, strafed by enemy aircraft, and battered by storms. He drifted 2,000 miles west only to be captured by the Japanese Navy near the Marshall Islands. For the next two years, he endured physical and mental suffering at the hands of Japanese POW camps that were difficult to read about. I cannot even begin to comprehend the horror of experiencing it. He endured disease, starvation, and excessively brutal beatings from guards. On three occasions, Louie was injected and used as a guinea pig for medical experiments. One Japanese named Mutsuhiro Watanabe took particular joy in hurting him. He would hunt Louie down, accuse him of imaginary infractions, and wildly attack him. Louie would try and hide in groups of men but it did no good. Watanabe, also known as “The Bird” would find him and beat him. On another occasion the Bird had Zamperini, along with a few other men, stand before the group of POW’s and punch them in the face as hard as they could. There were two hundred and twenty punches. The beating went on for two hours. Louie’s face was so swollen that for several days he could barely open his mouth.

Needless to say, when rescued and back home, Zamperini suffered greatly from nightmares. Every night he would see the Bird in his dreams. He seethed with anger and longed for vengeance. He began drinking heavily to try to deal with all of it.

One night, because of the prompting of his wife, he attended a crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham. Angered by the message, he reached the aisle but then stopped. He suddenly remembered being on the raft again and a promise that he had uttered to God, “If you will save me, I will serve you forever.” With that, he turned toward Graham and received Jesus Christ as his Savior from sin.

By his own testimony, since that night he has not once had a nightmare about the Bird. He gave up drinking. Instead of seething with anger, he was filled with peace and compassion and incorrigible joy. In the Fall of 1950, he returned to Japan, not for zamperin 1vengeance, but to tell his Japanese captors about God’s forgiveness. At SugamoPrison he compassionately addressed 850 Japanese war criminals with the message of Jesus Christ. Laura Hillenbrand writes, “Louie was seized by childlike, giddy exuberance. Before he realized what he was doing, he was bounding down the aisle. In bewilderment, the men who had abused him watched him come to them, his hands extended, a radiant smile on his face” (Unbroken, 387).

Summing up the life of Louie post-conversion Hillenbrand writes, “He remained infectiously, incorrigibly cheerful. He once told a friend that the last time he could remember being angry was some forty years before. His conviction that everything happened for a reason, and would come to good, gave him a laughing equanimity even in hard times” (Broken, 392).

Did you catch that?

Why is Zamperini cheerful and free from anger?

What has become his conviction?

“…that everything happened for a reason, and would come to good…”

In an interview with pastor Greg Laurie he says, “If it hadn’t been for the war or Watanabe and the post-traumatic stress, that’s what drove me to Christ. I mean, when I got on my knees and accepted Christ, what a relief to know that I had passed from one life to another.”

Wow! Wow! Wow!

This is not a story about the triumph of the human will.

Thzamperiniis is a story of the triumph of God’s amazing grace that sustains us through our darkest days and overcomes our deepest sins. This is a story about God’s relentless, driving, grace. I think I feel a Charles Spurgeon quote coming on, ““I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

 

 

How To Provoke Your Children To Anger

Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Some great thoughts here from Mark Altrogge for each of us parents to consider both prayerfully and humbly on ways that we  can provoke our children to anger (I know I was convicted on a number of them):

– By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them.  When they feel they can never please us enough.
– By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do.  Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
– By anger and harshness
– By a lack of affection
– By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
– By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
– By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
– By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
– By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
– By always lecturing them and never listening to them
– By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
– By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
– By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
– By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
– By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking?  Why in the world would you do that?)
– By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).

Anger and the Gospel

 

By David Paul Dorr:

All of us get angry.  Anger is the emotional reaction that flows from the obstruction of our will. Just as we feel pain when you jam our toe against a wall, we feel anger when our will is obstructed.  Anger is not a sin, but provides plenty of emotional fuel for temptation.

And that temptation is bitterness.  Bitterness is the constipation of anger.  Bitterness sits in our heart with no place to go and it saps our energy.  But what is the source of bitterness?

Read the rest here!