Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unbroken

It's not every day that you read a book that changes your life. The first book I remember having had this particular impact is The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss.  It was the book that introduced me to the story of the holocaust and it was probably the first book I ever read that really showed me that life was not fair, that suffering and pain do exist in great quantities and that hope is powerful.  I probably read it 100 times growing up and it was a strong force in the development of my love of WWII history and my own personal commitment to "never forget."

So, it was with great anticipation that I finally picked up the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand one short week ago.  I'd heard from a number of sources that this was a must read and having learned it was connected to WWII only made it more enticing.  Within 3 pages I was hooked.  Here was a story you could just tell would be life-changing.

I'm not going to put any spoilers here but suffice it to say that with each turn of the page the story got more unbelievable. Just when I thought I had seen the limits of what a human could endure, I'd remember that there were still 200 pages to go in the book and surely the story was not finished.  It touched the sport lover in me as well as that huge part of myself who is moved by all things war. It reminded me anew of the terror that humans can wreak on each other as well as the enormous capacity we are given to forgive through the power of God.  It made me laugh and cry and imagine anew what life must've been like for my own grandfather who fought in the European theater.  It pointed me, yet again, to the only One who can offer us new creation, who can take mourning and turn it into dancing, who can turn our weeping into joy, who can truly change us, heal us, give us hope. 

In short, it changed my life.  Not just because it was well written or because it's a compelling story, of which both are true.  But because when you read the story of Louis Zamperini, you can feel God at work.  And in a world with lots of awful and discouraging stories, it's a good thing to be reminded that we are not alone, that hope is still powerful, that perseverance is not pointless and that God is always hard at work in the act of redemption.

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