The Power of Perseverance
The movie Unbroken recounts the true-life story of Louie Zamperini and his perseverance to overcome. From an early age, Louie would get into trouble. Seeing his younger brother heading in the wrong direction, Louie’s older brother Pete thought it would be a good idea to get Louis involved in the high school track team. This decision turned out better than expected, as Louie eventually ended up competing in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, setting an astonishing lap record of 56 seconds.
Shortly after, in 1941, he joined the war efforts, enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and trained as a bombardier. Then, in May 1943, while on a mission looking for a missing plane, the B-24 went down, killing eight of the eleven men on board. Zamperini, “Mac,” and “Phil” ended up adrift in the pacific and quickly ran out of food and water. Unfortunately, emaciated and dehydrated almost to death, only Zamperini and Phil survived long enough to be picked up by a Japanese warship.
Sadly, this was not the end of his misery, as he eventually ended up in one of the worst POW camps. There they beat him daily, ridiculed, mocked, psychologically tortured, worked relentlessly, starved, persecuted, and continuously brought him to the brink of death. In one memorable scene, the sadistic Corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe (aka “The Bird”) orders the emaciated and sickly 65-pound Zamperini to hold a six-foot log over his head or be severely beaten.
Unfortunately for Watanabe, Zamperini uses the moment to show his defiant perseverance and encourage other prisoners by holding the log up for over thirty minutes until Watanabe punches him in the stomach, causing the log to fall on his head and knock him unconscious. Eventually, Zamperini returns home but suffered from PTSD for many years. As a result, he developed a sleeping disorder, struggled with physical ailments, and eventually became an alcoholic. Finally, on the brink of losing it all, his wife Cynthia, a born-again Christian, convinced Louis to attend a crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham.
At that crusade, Louis accepted Christ and embraced his promise made long ago to God to follow him. During one interview, Louie said, “I had nightmares every night about the Bird since the war and after the war, and the night I made my decision for Christ I haven’t had a nightmare since. 1949 ’til now, and that is some kind of a miracle.”
Louie’s story of perseverance is a powerful reminder of how God calls us to do the same. Despite the overwhelming obstacles, we’re to stay grounded with faith because God wants to do something great through us. God is the one who grants the peace but also the power to do the seemingly impossible. Zampirini’s motto, “A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.”
Answer and Journal the Following
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Pray for strength to persevere even when things seem difficult and almost impossible .
Meditate / Memorize:
Contemplate and meditate on or memorize the passage. What is God saying to you? Then, determine what you will do with what you’ve learned.
Share what you’ve learned with someone else.