Retired Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
It’s easy to trust God when life going well and all is swell. But, when life turns sour and plummets into a living “hell on earth” that’s when we discover the true quality of our faith.
Someone has said, “Soft times make soft Christians.” And, similarly, “It’s the storms that make good sailors.”
Certainly the talking is easier than walking.
Recently a genuine hero passed away. Former fighter pilot, prisoner of war, admiral and United States Senator Jeremiah Denton, was a man to whom we can all look up to and from whom we can still learn a great deal. You will remember Commander Denton as the POW who made world headlines during the Vietnam War by refusing to renounce his country while being filmed under duress to make a propaganda film. He outfoxed his tormenters by blinking the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code, thereby confirming the worst fears for what was really happening to the prisoners who were confined at the infamous prison nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton.”
Enduring beatings, systematic torture and unspeakable horror for 7 1/2 years, four of which were in solitary confinement, Denton was finally returned home after the Vietnam War without ever denying either his country or his faith.
Upon his repatriation to the United States, Denton stepped up to the microphone provided and said, “We are honoured to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander in chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”
Because of his sterling and inspiring character, Denton would go on to become a Rear Admiral and later a United States senator. During that stellar career, he wrote a book about his experiences. Apart from the natural curiosity of what it was like to be a prisoner of war and to suffer so much, the burning question that came up time after time was the question, “How did you do it? Where did you get the strength to endure such hardships and trying times?”
Denton was never shy in sharing his faith in God and testifying of God’s keeping power even in the worst of times. Denton’s answers have great credibility because he is one who truly has been through the fires and tested to the limits of human endurance.
Denton not only survived but thrived. He overcame every adversity, hardship and limitation to conquer the enemy at their own game. As the senior ranking officer he took command of the POWs there, established military order and discipline, organized a resistance movement, and inspired his brothers in arms to faith and courage. In doing so, they defeated every attempt to break the men and destroy their humanity and use them for propaganda purposes.
To get the complete picture you will have to read the book.
But, for now, take Denton’s example for your inspiration. Put your faith in God. Completely give yourself to Him and allow Him to bring you through whatever you are enduring.
Psalm 46 promises His help, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the Earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
And what could be more encouraging than His personal promise, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you [Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5]; “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
How far? All the way!