Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
Saint Peter knew about people and how we work. He wrote about the importance of hope in the face of the obstacles of life. He wrote, “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). He referred to the ultimate hope of Christians, which is our salvation through Christ alone. But, he also recognized the powerful motive of having hope in everyday life.
I love Filipino history, but especially the time of WWII. The stories of horrible brutality contrasted against sacrificial heroism and the strength of the human spirit is breathtaking.
There was the Bataan death march, the prison camps of O’Donnell, Cabanatuan, Los Banos, Davao Penal colony, Santo Tomas, and Old Bilibid Prison in Manila. There was the savage destruction of Manila, the “Pearl of the Orient.” Tens of thousands of lives were snuffed out, tortured in the most unspeakable ways, and forced into appalling degradation. Oh, I forgot to mention the unmarked “hell ships” that transported prisoners on to Japan, and were torpedoed by American submarines. Times were terrible for Americans and Filipinos alike.
One thing always puzzled me: why is it that in those horrible conditions some people lived, and some people died? Let me explain. In the Bataan death march and prison camps, especially O’Donnell and Cabanatuan, many prisoners managed survive. On the other hand, time after time others simply gave up and died on the spot.
They were just as healthy as their comrades, but they saw no purpose or meaning in their circumstances, and just gave up hope. There is that word “hope” again. In the literature of the eye witnesses who lived to tell about the horrific experience, over and over they mentioned the importance of having hope that someday rescue would come. The whole nation encouraged itself on MacArthur’s words, “I shall return.” Hope was the difference between life and death.
In comparison, we in America today do not face such despair in our lives. But, we do face daunting circumstances sometimes as we live our lives on this earth. There is the loss of work, a marriage that no longer basks in love, an investment gone bad, infirmities of old age, and of course the big ones like cancer or heart disease. And then there is always the end of our tenure in this life.
We can take a vital lesson from the words of Saint Peter and the examples of those hardy survivors of WWII in the Philippines. Whether it is the small, bigger, or the really big issues we face in life, hope generates the energy to survive and prosper.
Dr. Newman teaches at Faith Evangelical College & Seminary, Tacoma. He and Esmie have the website, www.Bible-teaching-about.com that includes an online Bible academy, free Bible studies, answers to questions, ebooks and paperbacks. Scripture from the New American Standard Bible, © the Lockman Foundation, 1960-73, used by permission.
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