Empty Shelf Challenge Book #16: “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand

I finished my 16th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who later enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as a bombardier. In 1943, he and his crews’ plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing eight of the eleven men aboard. One of the crash survivors died after over a month at sea, but Louis and his friend Phil survived for 47 days, only to then be taken as prisoners of war in Japan.

I read this 400-page book in just over 2 days. It certainly helps that I’m on maternity leave 🙂 But the story is so compelling that it was difficult to put down. It is also excruciatingly painful to read. The abuse that Zamperini endured in the various POW camps was astounding. Story after story of injustice and suffering as Hillenbrand, the author, recounts Zamperini’s two long years in captivity. Even after the war ended and he was freed, he endured nightmares and fears that drove him to use alcohol to cope.

This book certainly put my problems in perspective, and challenged me as I considered all that one man can endure and still come through, forgiving.

The story does have a happy ending 🙂 But you will have to read it to find out! I got this book through Paperback Swap (of course!), but I’m sure it’s available at the library.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:

Monday Morning Meditation: God’s Protection from the Enemy (Psalm 71 series)

We are continuing the series on Psalm 71. I encourage you to read the whole psalm here.

Last week, I talked about how David, the author of the psalm, intertwines prayer requests with truth about God, as if to remind himself that despite his trials, despite the hopelessness he may feel at times, God’s character has not changed. He is still good, He is still faithful, and He is still able to rescue and set free.

Let’s look at today’s verses (v.3-4)

Be to me a protecting rock of safety, where I am always welcome.
Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors.

This psalm is full of beautiful and challenging pictures of God’s character and steadfastness.

I especially love the imagery of God as a welcoming rock of safety. It’s a picture of God’s solidity, coupled with His always open arms. The NASB translation further illuminates this truth: “Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come.” We can come to God, as we are, with all our fears and doubts and sorrows, and He is always willing to welcome us in.

David repeats a lot of the same prayers and promises of the first 2 verses. Like the persistent widow, he asks again, Save me, protect me, rescue me.

He also recognizes that the wicked do have some level of power. Jesus recognized this truth as well when He said that Satan came to steal, kill and destroy, but He came so that we might have an abundant life (John 10:10). When Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus told him that He was sending him to “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18)

So while we have a real enemy (in Satan) and other enemies (in people), Jesus makes it clear, as does David in this psalm, that’s not the end of the story.

God is our fortress. He is sufficient protection against any enemy. A rock of safety, where we are always welcome. Not only did Jesus defeat Satan’s power on the cross (Hebrews 2:14-15), we have a God who able to protect us.

In what area of your life do you need God’s protection today?