My husband and I were watching some special t.v. programs on Veterans Day. One, in particular, told the story of veterans of the Vietnam War. It detailed their journey of being detained as prisoners of war in one of the worst POW camps imaginiable - The Hanoi Hilton in North Vietnam. In this camp, known for its inhumane conditions and its horrific torture, prisoners were kept isolated from each other and were beaten and tortured regularly. It was enough to demoralize even the hardiest soul.
One prisoner, a US pilot, wanted to keep the hopes of his fellow prisoners alive and to encourage them to persevere. He began by using his tin-metal drinking cup to tap out messages of hope to his colleagues that he never got to see. When guards were not patrolling, he softly tapped Morse Code messages on his decaying cement block walls. G-O-D B-L-E-S-S Y-O-U was just one of the messages he sent. Other inmates, farther down the cell block, would continue tapping out the message until all the prisoners heard.
Among the other messages the pilot regularly sent were: "Rescue Will Come," and "Hang On." Eventually, he was able to smuggle messages out of the prison using spy tradecraft. When he received messages back, he would tap out more messages of hope to the then weakened, beaten down, and emaciated soldiers... H-E-L-P C-O-M-I-N-G, K-N-O-W O-U-R L-O-C-A-T-I-O-N. The code miraculously met its intended purpose. It kept the men hanging on until finally most of them were rescued at the end of the war. A simple hopeful message can mean the difference between life and death.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)
During these turbulent and uncertain times, we can feel like prisoners in our own homes. The four walls begin to close in and though we're not being tortured, as days drag on, even the sturdiest of us begins to lose hope that one day things will be better and some sense of normalcy will return. Many are suffering from depression due to isolation and loneliness. Though weeping endures for the night, joy WILL come in the morning. We need to get to the morning!
I encourage you to think about people to whom you can send out messages of hope. Here are a few practical ideas to consider:
* Call friends and family more often - particularly those in nursing homes or those living alone.
* Send a humorous or uplifting text to several people you know at random times and let them know you're thinking of them.
* Sit down and write a good old-fashioned "snail-mail" letter or note.
* Drop off an unexpected small gift of homemade treats or a potted plant to someone who is struggling.
* Pick a day of the week and make it a habit to email 2-3 different people each week. If contacting older people, ask them to share a favorite childhood memory. Revive the art of story telling. When there's not a lot of new news to share, everyone loves telling a favorite old story.
As you continue to send out messages of hope, be sure to take in or receive messages of hope. We can't pour out if we're not being poured into.
* Make Bible reading and quiet time a non-negotiable priority each day. Get up early if necessary.
* Put on praise music at home or make your SUV a sanctuary in which you sing songs to the Lord as you run errands.
* Take a devotional with you when you go to medical appointments.
* Post a different scripture each week, where you'll see it often, and challenge yourself to memorize one new scripture each week. Do the challenge with a friend and share your memory verse for the week. Mine are posted by the coffee pot lol.
* Start a gratitude journal in which you write down 3-5 things you're grateful for each day - simple works well!
Remember that God is not flummoxed or frustrated by what's going on. Nothing can thwart God's sovereign purpose. Ask Him what He would have you learn in this "wilderness season." Look around for blessings you've experienced that will help you "flip the script" on 2020. It's all there and is ours for the asking.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the messages you send me each and every day - for the way that you answer prayers before they've even left my lips. I praise you that your will is sovereign. Enable me to pray that your will, not mine be done. Help me to be bold in sending out messages of hope to those who need to hear...not just hope for today, but for eternity. Let me make spending time with you a priority and let me seek to know what you would have me learn from these days. Grant me your peace, strength, and mercy. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
What about you? Who do you feel God calling you to send out a message of hope to today? What blessings are you thankful for in 2020? Will you share?
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