hope between heaven and hell
I just finished the book Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand; the story of
the incredible life of Louis Zamperini. It is subtitled A World War
II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. This true story was
made into a Hollywood movie which I’m told is big on survival and
resilience but not so much on redemption.
Louis Zamperini survived the horrors of a Japanese prisoner of war
camp and years later, while suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
he found redemption in Jesus Christ - for himself and his torturers -
under the preaching of a young Evangelist named Billy Graham.
The story of Louis Zamperini brings home the question again “Why does
God allow evil and suffering in this world?” Louis, as many others in
history have, survived a “hellish” environment on earth; but is it an
environment of God’s doing and design? Is this a “proving ground” – a
test of our resilience? Is it a place of punishment for sin?
After reading Louis Zamperini’s story I could see a strong tie between
the P.O.W. and the Apostle Paul. Except that, as recorded in
scripture, Paul knew Jesus Christ before being tortured and his strong
faith sustained him, even to the point of joy; considering it a
privilege to be tortured for Christ.
Evil and suffering are easier to handle with Christ but that still
doesn’t answer the question of “Why evil? Why suffering?”
We must recognize that we are trapped somewhere between Eden and Hell
where both good and evil operate. We who desire good ask “Why evil?”
while for some it must be asked “Why good?” We see both righteousness
and unrighteousness and are tempted and invited by both to take sides.
Jesus Christ made Himself a Prisoner of War in the battle for your
soul. He was tortured and killed by His captors. In this hostile
land God is waiting to fight on your behalf; or have you taken up arms
with the enemy – a rebel against God?
Overcome with Christ and, like the Apostle Paul, you may have joy even
in the wounds of battle because the risen Christ has already defeated
The problem of suffering you must place squarely on the shoulders of
God. God declares in expelling Adam and Eve from Eden they must
suffer (Genesis 3). Eve with the burden of desiring children and
suffering greatly in having them, and Adam bearing the burden of
knowing the ground of the earth is cursed because of his disobedience.
Those who toil will endure thorns and thistles and painful labor just
to provide for themselves.
We find reminders of Eden in the goodness of creation God and
reminders of man’s sin in suffering. God did this so we would never
forget that we are separated from Him. There can be joy also in our
suffering because God cared enough to remind us to reach out to Him.
In the middle of pain we either curse God or cry out in hope. In
hindsight we must reflect on pain as a blessing because it is a tool
Louis Zamperini, still suffering in nightmares and emotional torment,
sat under a huge tent listening to the words of Billy Graham “…God
says, ‘If you suffer, I’ll give you the grace to go forward’”, and at
that moment Louie hit a crossroads and chose to go forward with
Christ. He did not give in to evil and he chose at that moment to no
longer give in to suffering.
We are promised in Revelation chapter 21 that one day good and evil
will be separated forever and suffering and sin will be removed from
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed
away… (He is) making everything new!”