I’ve often been amazed at stories told by those who have been prisoners of war. One such story stays in my memory about a man who had been captured in the Pacific during WWII. As a punishment in the camp he was forced into a wooden box and kept there for days. He couldn’t stand up or move around. He was in a sitting position. To sleep he could only lean his head against one side of his squared cell. It was hot and often he felt as if he might suffocate. He was given no water or food during this time. He sat in his urine soaked pants.
He tells that he never lost hope that he would survive because he could always see a sliver of light through a crack in his wooden prison. Light shone through in the day and also in the night from lanterns hung around the camp. He was uncomfortable, hungry and thirsty, and in great pain, but hope stayed alive because he could see that sliver of light. That light represented life that was going on all around him. It gave him hope that he would be returned to his fellow inmates and together they would press on.
I thought that this is how situations are in our physical and emotional worlds. We have a dream that is dashed. We are betrayed by a trusted friend. We are unfairly treated at work. We suffer poor health or watch someone we love grow weaker from illness. The list goes on of unpleasant circumstances which, at no fault of our own, imprisons us in a dark world of the unknown.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we can always see a sliver of light from the One who is the Light of this world. He alone is our greatest hope. Martin Luther once said, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.”
The Apostle Paul was imprisoned unfairly. He wrote to Timothy in I Timothy 1:12, “I am suffering here in prison, but I am not ashamed of it, for I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard all that I have entrusted to Him, until the day of His return.”
The darkness of this world can seemingly suffocate all joy and hope away, but anticipation for deliverance need never fade. The key is — stay focused on the Light even when it seems but a sliver.