“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” —Psalms 9:9-10.    

Hollywood loves stories where a person faces insurmountable odds and comes through in the end because it is discovered they can handle more than anyone thought possible. That was Louie Zamperini’s story for sure. He was a very promising runner. In his teens, he qualified for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. With an amazing finish there in the 5000 meters, there were many who thought that he would be the first to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile. With so much promise, he was a favorite to lead the U.S. track team into the 1940 Olympic Games. But World War II changed all that.

On May 27, 1943, as Louie and an airplane crew were flying a search mission over the Pacific Ocean, mechanical failure sent their plane spiraling into the ocean. Miraculously, Louie and two other crewmembers survived: pilot Russell Allen Phillips and tail gunner Francis McNamara. Adrift on a pair of life rafts with only meager provisions, the trio spent the next several weeks braving blistering heat, hunger, dehydration and circling packs of sharks. On one occasion, machine gunners from a passing Japanese bomber strafed the airmen, deflating one of their rafts and leaving the other on the verge of ruin. Zamperini and his fellow castaways survived on rainwater and the occasional captured bird or fish, but all soon saw their weight drop below 100 pounds, and McNamara perished after 33 days at sea. Zamperini and Phillips remained adrift for another two weeks before being captured by the Japanese Navy near the Marshall Islands. By then, the men had drifted an astonishing 2,000 miles.

Like Zamperini, you may be feeling like you’re floating in the middle of a vast ocean with no plan at all and no help in sight. You feel like things are going from bad to worse. You wonder if God knows that you exist. You wonder if He even cares. You wonder if He is really out there, if He really is with you. Isaiah 61:1 reminds us: ”The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” 

All does not go right. Life may never be exactly what you hoped. Sometimes it gets worse when you least expect it. But that is why Jesus came. He came to comfort the brokenhearted, to bring the good news of rescue and help to you. If suffering and pain are breaking your heart today, hear the Good News of Jesus’ healing grace for you. The Savior who died for you and rose from the dead has overcome everything that would cause you to be in troubled waters. He will bring you safely to land. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some good things that can come from going through a difficult or challenging time in your life? Can you think of a time when you realized the meaning of an experience or troubles in your life after the fact? How so?
  2. Was there a time when you went around, over or under a difficult situation instead of going through it? In hindsight, do you think the outcome would have been different if you chose to go through it instead? 
  3. According to Psalm 42:5, what are the two things we can do to help us through tough times?
  4. What can we do this week to be better prepared for the tough times in our lives?