The Stockdale Paradox states that in every circumstance, you must retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties – and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
During his eight years as a POW, Stockdale looked the reality of his situation squarely in the face each day, yet he never lost faith that he would eventually prevail. And he did. After the war, Stockdale became the first 3-Star officer in the Navy’s history to earn both Aviator Wings and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
This letter will practice the Stockdale Paradox. First the facts: Stress is now constant, grinding and toxic. You are facing intense battles and it is more draining than ever in history. You are being threatened! You have to face the brutal facts and you must have the unshakable conviction that God will bring you out of crisis.
You must face your crisis honestly and squarely. Today’s talk shows and news channels constantly analyze the evil done by leaders and rage against. But there is nothing you can do about them. This can agitate your spirit, use up vital time and energy, and as roil your spirit like a barrage of mosquito bites.
At the same time you cannot entertain even the smallest doubt of your deliverance and breakthrough. We will look for this in Psalm 37 which is an emphatic promise of victory upon victory. There is no possibility of God forsaking you. It is beyond impossible for your story to end in tragedy. You must believe that with all of your heart. David said, 25 “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.”
When my life was totally changed about crisis: It is 5 A.M. The phone rings. The voice says, “We are on the air with Mario Murillo.” The call is from a popular radio talk show in Miami. The host hits me with this question: “Why did God allow Hurricane Andrew to destroy the homes of faithful Christians as a well as rank sinners? I am too groggy to give a clear answer. I try to stall; begging God for wisdom. I hear, “Tell them that the foolish man built his house on the sand.” I argued with God complaining that this statement seemed heartless and that the D.J. would not like it. He did not like it. In a panic I pray, “Lord you have to give me more!” Now I was told to say, “The wise man built his house on the rock.” I did and this too irked the radio host. Then something amazing happened right while I was on the radio.
Then revelation hit me. Now I knew why Jesus gave us this parable of the storm. I immediately said to the radio host, “I know now why you asked me this question, it is a trick question to try and discredit Christianity. So now I will answer you. Why would Jesus say to build on the rock? Because storms are coming! I did not become a Christian because it meant the end of storms, but because storms are inevitable. Since storms are inevitable, the only way to go through a storm is with Jesus and not without Him!
Listen to more from Psalm 37: “1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.”-Psalm 37:1-9.
King David wrote these words late in his life after he had faced every storm imaginable and had seen God’s deliverance out of all of them! Then he explains why these commands make sense. Then he lists the special miracles, protection, provision, and direction from God that will come to those who obey these commands. Above all, he guarantees a profound peace and comfort in the storm. Take these steps now!
Step One: Do not fret because of evil doers. Stop worrying, analyzing, and fretting. We watch helplessly as an ongoing financial firestorm caused by criminals and politicians plunder our jobs, savings, and our homes. What makes it so enraging is that they seem to have gotten away with it!
In verse one he orders us not to fret and then repeats it several times throughout the Psalm. In verse 8 he says, “Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Why do something that only does damage? Since the storm is already doing damage why add to it with worry? You may not know where your next job will come from. You may not have the money to save your home, but do not fret!
Step Two: Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. We must make God our one and only hope. It is our duty to do this and only by doing this can we find the way through the hurricanes of life. We are to believe fervently in our God’s good intentions for us.
We must still do good deeds! We still pray, witness, and carry on our duty leaving every crisis in His hands. We must feed our soul on the testimonies of past breakthroughs and in the exhortations of friends, Godly leaders, and the Word of God.
David breaks up this command to trust into two smaller commands:
A. “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart: We must make God our heart’s delight and then we shall have our heart’s desire. We must be satisfied with His loving-kindness, and make that our exceeding joy. He will not give us everything we crave, but He will give all of the fondest desires of a sanctified heart!
B. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass: We must make God our guide, and surrender everything to His guidance and disposal; and then all our affairs, even those that seem to be the most tangled and perplexing will reach a satisfying outcome. We must trust Him with every outcome of our crisis. He may do it in a way that we never thought of. We need not get into a frenzy of speculation of how we will get out of this mess. All we need to know is that He will do it!
Step Three: Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land:
A. Wait on the Lord: This is where you take your stand. This is the stand that will stand against every storm. You wait on God; you learn what to do and what not to do. You do not fret. You do not try to carry the weight of you crisis. You do not try to figure out solutions. You wait on God. Every saint in history has done this and has found final victory! Take every care, every weight, every hurt and pour onto God. Pray in exacting detail about what you want and what you need. If you need a specific answer, why would you pray a general prayer?
Keep His way and He will exalt you to inherit the land: Obey every impulse of the Holy Spirit instantly, without hesitation or doubt. Obey it even if it seems totally out of the blue and seems to have nothing to do with your situation. Our Father cannot resist the cry of His child. He also cannot but bless a suffering vessel when he sees them obeying in baby steps!
What is guaranteed to us if we obey the directive of Psalm 37?
1. That we shall have the blessing of God, and that blessing will be a constant source of delight and security for all of our needs and Godly pleasure. (v. 22)
2. That God will direct our actions and guide our affairs in the way that brings Him the most Glory. (v. 23): The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
3. That God will keep us from being destroyed when we stumble and fall. (v. 24): Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down.
4. That we shall not lack and the necessities of this life. (v. 25)
5. That God will never desert us, but will aggressively protect us in every calamity and against any enemy. (v. 28)
7. That we shall never be a prey to our adversaries and those who seek our life. (v. 32, 33)