Enduring Hope by Nancy Vandemark

Glenn Frazier was one of the people interviewed for The War, a Ken Burns film. After a juvenile display of anger caused by the reaction from discovering that the girl he loved was interested in someone else, he was too embarrassed to return home. Instead, Glen joined the peacetime army. Seeing the possibility of war in Europe, he volunteered for duty in the Philippines.

That would lead him on a horrific journey.  He “endured the Bataan Death March, and months of horrific conditions at Camp O'Donnell where hundreds of prisoners died every day from disease, starvation and abuse… was shipped to Japan, and spent nearly three nightmarish years in a succession of prison camps there… During his imprisonment, Frazier survived double pneumonia, torture, a week of isolation in a covered pit, and beatings so frequent they became routine… His autobiography, published in 2007, is called Hell's Guest.”*

I recall him saying in the film that what kept him focused on surviving was his desire to get back to the girl he loved. His hope to see her once more kept him striving to live despite all the horror and death that surrounded him. That was the hope that kept him living.

Rachel hoped to bear and raise children for Jacob. While she finally bore two sons, her untimely death at the birth of her second son did not allow her to see both of her sons raised to adulthood. Her hopes were dashed with her death.

Glenn Frazier survived the war. But at Camp O’Donnell, “One day, he volunteered to work on a burial detail, and decided to throw one of his two sets of dog tags into mass grave, hoping that if he died somewhere in the Philippine jungles, his parents would have some idea ‘what had happened to me.’”*

The dog tags were found before the war ended. The War Department informed his family of his death. The girl that Glenn Frazier had loved had decided to wait for him, but at the announcement of his death, she gave up and eventually married someone else before Glenn’s surprising return.  The hope that helped him survive was dashed.

Those are physical hopes. We all have them. Sometimes those hopes help us endure; sometimes those hopes are dashed by things beyond our control.

God does not just offer a physical hope to get us through each day of our physical lives, but a living hope. It is a hope that cannot be dashed by another person’s action or even by death!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” I Peter 1:3-9

 *Quoted from: http://www.pbs.org/thewar/detail_5171.htm