You must never confuse the faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be - Admiral James Stockdale
Admiral Stockdale was a POW in Vietnam for 7 years, was tortured over 20 times and kept in a solitary 3' x 9' cell in leg irons. He created and enforced a system of conduct for prisoners pertaining to torture, secret communication, and behavior. When he was told he would be paraded in front of TV cameras as propaganda, he slit his scalp open and beat himself in the face with a stool so his face was swollen and disfigured.
James C. Collins, the author of the business book, Good to Great, interviewed Stockdale about his coping strategy during his ordeal, Stockdale commented:
"I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade."
He mentioned that it was the Optimists in Vietnam who didn't return; those who were like positive Ostriches, exclaiming an optimism that provided false hope because they kept burying their heads in the sand pertaining to the reality of their situation.
The key to survival was not confusing faith (optimism) with fact (reality).
Keep the faith but do not ignore the fact that your situation is bleak and you must not passively ignore the discipline it will take to live.
Many of us have too much on our plates. Some get more than others. Some get less.
But, at one time or another in our lives, we all are faced with situations we see as life changing events.
We have the choice to be optimistic that our situation will get better and passively ignore the brutal facts that we are broke, lost a job, getting a divorce, facing a life threatening disease, etc.
Or we can become bitter and allow our situation to define us and live our lives as a victim.
Or ... take upon the Stockdale Paradox and use our faith to give us hope but confront the brutal facts of our current situation head on, constantly finding ways to defeat each circumstance with a different perspective, and find a way to survive the ordeal to use it as proof to God's existence.
You will find many a person to stand and shake their fist at God for allowing the atrocities of torture to take place and say, "Where was God?"
But you will win many more people for Christ by surviving those atrocities and becoming a living testimony for God, as these people will only see your survival as living proof of God's love and mercy.
I do not believe that God did not bless the optimists Admiral Stockdale mentioned. I bet the majority of them were Christian and used their faith the best way they knew how.
The lesson I want to advocate is that regardless of our Circumstance, we must prevail through a passionate pursuit for a Perspective that focuses on prevailing so, in the end, we can stand before others - without regret - as living examples of God's existence.
Just by surviving your own personal ordeal, your testimony alone of that survival, becomes the best evidence of God's existence to the world.
All of us face ordeals that want to steal our hope.
All of us face ordeals that grant us opportunities to give testimonies of God's existence.
Our enemy wants to show up during these ordeals and drown us in worry, doubt, fear, and anger.
It's up to you to recognize this as your personal battle, confront it, and aggressively pursue a plan to survive so everyone knows in the end, it was God who brought you out of the worst despair you have ever faced.
Face the facts of your struggle and see the beauty in surviving such an awesome battle as an opportunity to give God to the world!