Are you struggling to trust God’s promises because you’ve been ill for many many years? The story of admiral Jim Stockdale will help you to expect miracles in the midst of long term suffering.
Jim Collins’ book ‘Good to Great’ tells of something called the Stockdale paradox.
Admiral Jim Stockdale was in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He was shot down and held captive for 8 years in the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous POW prison where he was tortured over 20 times.
In a public interview after his release he was asked why he survived and others didn’t.
He responded by saying, ‘the way I survived was this; I realised I had to retain a fundamental belief that I would prevail in the end. But I also had to confront daily the brutal facts of my current reality.’
This belief caused admiral Jim Stockdale to expect a miracle in the midst of his long term torture. It is the same no matter what prison you are in, a physical prison or a prison of sickness.
HOW TO TRUST GOD’S PROMISES
I wonder if the leper that approached Jesus in Matt 8 held a similar belief system in his heart; dreaming of the miracle whilst coping with the horror of his situation. Are you dreaming of a better tomorrow that looks a million miles away?
But my righteous one will live by faith. Heb 10:38
If you’ve been ill for many years, you probably think your life will never change. Maybe you’re scared to get your hopes up in case you’re disappointed. Perhaps you don’t trust in God’s promises any more.
The leper may have thought and felt the same but placed his hope in the goodness of God.
I believe this caused him to never give up hope, to trust God’s promises and to expect a healing miracle. I wonder if he had heard about Jesus or seen him heal from a distance.
He knew Jesus was his only hope.
THE BRUTAL FACTS
The fact the leper was full of leprosy meant he had been that way for many years. Imagine the conditioning and the strong-holds.
There were no doctors, operations or medications to help. How difficult it must have been to trust in God’s promises for that length of time.
I love how the leper kept on believing despite the odds, just like admiral Stockdale. He didn’t let the unsightly state of his body contain him.
He didn’t allow the physical and emotional pain hinder him in his dreaming.
Are you living with a condition in your body where there is no worldly hope? Are there no operations, medications or doctors to help you?
I know exactly what this feels like. It feels like life has stopped and now all that’s left is a shell-like existence, spectating everyone else, desperate for life to hurry up and be over.
Have you suffered for so long, you think that death is a blessing. I imagine the leper felt this way also. This is the impact of the “ brutal facts of your current reality”
Our challenge, like that of the leper and admiral Jim Stockdale, is whilst confronting this on a moment to moment basis, to retain the truth that you will prevail in the end, to trust God’s healing promises and believe He won’t let you down.
Perhaps you feel that God’s promises are for everyone else. You’ve seen other people receive a healing and now think that these promises just don’t apply to you.
Can I encourage you to wake up each day and go again? I’m sure Admiral Stockdale felt weary as well.
This is where you need good friends to speak life over you and to encourage you to trust God’s healing promises.
“I am healed by the stripes of Jesus…..no sickness formed against me will prosper…..the Lord is restoring me to health and healing my wounds…..I will not die but live and declare the works of the Lord….”
Write them out, post them on your walls and cupboards, meditate on them, pray them and personalise them.
No matter how bad or lengthy your situation, cling onto God’s promises before the enemy steals them away from you.
Even if you can’t believe for a supernatural miracle, can you believe that life will improve somehow?
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Prov 4:18.
If you have a bad spell, where you stumble and get disheartened, that’s okay. You don’t need to do this perfectly. God will see to it that you get your fire back. Mountain climbs are not meant to be easy.
When you fall, you don’t fall back down to the bottom of the mountain, you just fall where you are.
DREAMING OF A BETTER TOMORROW
In Ephesians 3:20 we’re told that ‘God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask, think or imagine, due to the power within us.’ We have to do the thinking, the imagining and the dreaming even if it looks unlikely or impossible.
Picture yourself running a marathon, even though the doctors say it’s not possible. Imagine yourself on that family holiday, even though you’re not well enough to earn an income.
Picture your life in the future, what will it be like? Faith is about dreaming of a brighter future, that God has a plan for your life which is far greater than your dreams.
Bill Johnson says ‘Hope is the soil in which faith grows’. We need to have hope for a better future before we have the faith for it. This isn’t about thinking positively but is based on God’s promises in His Word.
Don’t allow your thinking to limit God. The enemy seeks to contain and limit us by keeping us thinking in terms of the natural realm. God is supernatural and has limitless resources at his fingertips.
May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! Deut 1:11
It’s God’s heart to bless you more than you can imagine. His dreams are far bigger than your own. God is a good God. Expect His favour, trust God’s promises and expect your healing miracle.
Have a great day
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