My son told me about one of his favorite books titled Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. During World War II on a bright and sunny afternoon in May 1943, an Army Air Force bomber plummeted into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared under the water, leaving a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline and blood. Suddenly a bobbing figure appeared, struggling to lift a life raft and haul himself aboard. Lt. Louis Zamperini began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of World War II.
Zamperini had been an incorrigible, delinquent child. As a teen, he channeled his defiance into running that propelled him into the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the formidable 4-minute mile. As one writer commented, “when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
“Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trail even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope…”
He survived the ordeal only to end up as a prisoner of war. Zamperini needed hope to make it home. Years later, at a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, he found his ultimate hope in giving his life to Jesus. He died in July 2014 and now knows the blessed hope of being with the Lord.
Israel needed hope. The truth is the whole world needed hope. The journey of hope came in the form of a baby, but that was only the beginning! The confirmation of hope came through people of faith.
We Need Hope in the Supernatural Realm of Life
The Jews desperately wanted to believe the Sovereign God would deliver them from the Romans so one day they would be masters of the world and lords of all nations! Many believed a supernatural champion would arrive on the scene to take the nation to the fullest extent of power even if force was involved. The Messiah would lead armies with all the drama that heaven could provide. They could hear the shouting of hallelujah and amen reverberating throughout the world because their God provided their champion.
By contrast to the hawks of the nation, there were the doves, known as “Quiet of the Land,” according to William Barclay. He observed, “they had no dreams of violence and of power and of armies with banners; they believed in a life of constant prayer and quiet watchfulness until God should come. All their lives they waited quietly and patiently upon God.” Simeon was one of them. He was a man of prayer, worship, expectation and hope.
When Mary and Joseph walked into the temple with Jesus, Simeon’s heart gave a leap as he recognized this baby was the anointed King sent by God to save Israel and the world. Do we recognize Him as the supernatural Champion of the world?
We Need Hope in the Redemption of Life
A second person entered the temple, a prophetess named Anna, who, similar to Simeon, had a hope centered in God. As a widow, she had dedicated herself to fasting, praying and worshipping in the temple for decades. She patiently waited decades to catch a glimpse of the Redeemer, and now He had come! She rejoiced, knowing the Deliverer of Jerusalem (and the world) had arrived on earth. Thirty-three years later, He would die on the cross at Calvary to redeem the world! Is it any wonder a sword would pierce the heart of His mother?
Amy Carmichael said there is something about Calvary that confounds our understanding, and the words about the precious blood never should be read or sung except on the knees of our spirits.
Have we recognized the baby Jesus who would die on the cross for our sins is the anointed King sent by God to save us? He truly is the Champion of life!
We Need Hope in Jesus as Our Hope
It is thrilling to read about Simeon and Anna and the hope they had in Jesus, but it is a totally different experience from my personal hope. The sin that was in my heart, the rebellion, the lostness have departed since I, Derl Gene Keefer, have put my hope, trust and life into Jesus.
As the song writer penned, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” He has become my Redeemer, and I have become His child! Praise be to God! He is the Champion of my life!