By Steve Goodier
Jean Kerr said, "Hope is the feeling you have, that the
feeling you have, isn't permanent." It is what we have when we know that we
WILL eventually survive the night and bask in sunshine once again. It does
not deny the present darkness, but it reminds us that dawn is coming.
Brigadier General Robinson Risner ("Robbie") spent seven
years as a POW at the "Hanoi Hilton," as prisoners of war called their North
Viet Nam compound. There he discovered the power of hope. He spent four and
a half years of that time in isolation. He endured ten months of total
darkness. Those ten months were the longest of his life. When they boarded
up his little seven-by- seven foot cell, shutting out the light, he wondered
if he was going to make it. He had already been under intense physical and
mental duress after years of confinement. And now, not a glimmer of light
shone into his cell -- or into his soul.
Robbie spent hours a day exercising and praying. But at
times he felt he could nothing but scream. Not wanting to give his captors
the satisfaction of knowing they'd broken him, he stuffed clothing into his
mouth to muffle the noise as he screamed at the top of his lungs.
One day Robbie got down on the floor and crawled under his
bunk. He located a vent that let in outside air. As he pressed against the
vent, he saw a faint glimmer of light reflected on the inside wall of the
opening. Robbie put his eye next to the cement wall and discovered a minute
crack in the construction. It allowed him to glimpse outside, but was so
small that all he could see was one blade of grass. A single blade of grass
and a faint ray of light. But when he stared at the sight, he felt a surge
of joy, excitement and gratitude like he hadn't known in years. "It
represented life, growth, and freedom," he later said, "and I knew God had
not forgotten me." It was a tiny glimmer hope that sustained Robbie through
an unbearable ordeal.
The human spirit is strong. It seems to run forever on nothing but a morsel
of hope. Without it, you have nothing. With it, nothing else matters.
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