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Seeing God's Hand in the Rear View Mirror

I just finished an exceptional book: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Author Laura Hillenbrand's talent coupled with riveting subject matter make for a compelling read. (This is Hillenbrand's second big bestseller. Seabiscuit, another wonderful book, is the other.)

Unbroken tells the story of Louie Zamperini, an extraordinarily gifted runner who was a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic team but saw his competitive athletic career cut short by World War II. With the 1940 Games cancelled, Louie joined the military as an airman and served in the Pacific theater.

His war experience became a horrific one after his plane went down at sea; he drifted in a raft without rations in shark-infested waters for an unbelievable amount of time. It was a harrowing experience which very nearly cost him his life - yet something far worse awaited him afterward on land.

Louie's internment and brutal treatment at the hands of his Japanese captors is something you will not forget if you read this book. While taking in page after page of atrocities that are difficult to imagine, you'll also be struck by the unbelievable resilience and strength of these POWs.

The other thing that will make you take pause is the revelation Louie had some years later. Following the war, he suffered terribly from PTSD and finally reached the end of his rope. In desperation, his wife begged him to attend one of Billy Graham's revivals with her. Grudgingly, Louie did.  That was the trigger that turned his life around.

His perspective shifted dramatically, and he saw his ordeal in a different light. Louie felt that in spite of the unspeakable trauma he suffered, the hand of God was apparent during the entire ordeal.

There were a number of times, both while he drifted at sea and later during his imprisonment, when death seemed imminent. Logical. The obvious outcome. (I won't spoil it for you - you'll have to read about it.) Yet he survived. 

Even though things were so very dark - Louie saw in retrospect that God had been there to deliver him. Most of us won't ever have to face the kinds of terrible trials described in Unbroken. Far from it. Still, life has its share of challenges for all of us.

How many times have you looked back after the fact - perhaps many years later - and been able to clearly see how God was guiding you (even though you might have felt so very alone at the time)?

Sometimes hindsight...the rear view what you need to see what you couldn't while you were experiencing it. 

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