A Message Of Hope

I was watching Fox News yesterday from home and Lt. Col. Dan Rooney was on as a guest (view video news clip). His non-profit organization, “Folds of Honor,” started in 2007 and their mission is to  provide educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. Perhaps you have heard of them. One of many quality non-profits serving out veterans and their families.

Anyway, Lt. Col. Rooney told a story about a fellow veteran, U.S. Marine Sergeant Rocky Sickmann and how his situation could teach us lessons during this COVID-19 crisis. Sergeant Sickmann was one of 52 marines and other Americans who were captured by radical Islamic terrorists at the embassy in Iran in 1979. We, who were around then remember that terrible day in history. Over the next 444 days, He and his fellow hostages endured privation, mental, physical and psychological torture as officials sought their release. That finally came in January 1980.

Sickmann describes life in a foreign country 7,000 miles from home. You’re not allowed to talk to anybody. Your mind plays games with you. You lose hope not knowing if you will live or die. You keep thinking. “this has to end soon.” He describes being literally chained to a chair for the first 30 days. He describes being handcuffed with his hands behind his back for days at a time and spending an entire week tied to a bed. He went outside a total of seven times, 15 minutes total, in those 444 days.

When asked what carried him through, he mentioned three things: 1) his faith in God, 2) his few friends who were there with him and 3) keeping control of his mind and his thoughts – staying focused on what little he could actually do in the circumstances.

We are facing a similar enemy today – COVID-19. It has changed our lives. For a couple of weeks now, we have been largely “home bound.” We have been ordered by government authorities to stay home. We can’t go to work, visit our friends, eat dinner out or entertain ourselves as normal. I don’t know about you, but it is starting to get to me. I am bored, easily frustrated, short tempered, angry, you name it. And then I pause after hearing a story like that of Lt. Col. Sickmann, and I want to repent to God for my thoughts.

My hardship is NOTHING compared to what he and other have endured. And, think about what got him through – we can still exercise our faith, we still have our family and we can exercise our minds and stay alert. Oh – we can even go outside for a walk on a nice day, as long as we practice “social distancing.” For me, maybe it’s a good time to pick up that book I never finished, play a board game or do a jigsaw puzzle with my family, or learn a new skill or hobby. Our “prison” is only temporary and will hopefully end shortly (I hear references to Easter Sunday being a significant marker). Let’s pray, love, give, support, encourage and serve those God has placed in our lives.

In God’s Love, Kent

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