Saturday, July 18, 2015

Never, never, never....never give up

There is a quote that goes something like this, "Never, never, never give up." A little bit of digging (read: Googling) pulled up the name Winston Churchill, the famed Prime Minister of Britian during World War II. Churchill is credited with coining the term, "iron curtain" and keeping Britan from falling into the hands of the Nazis. His 1941 quote urging his listeners to never give up came from his own personal experience. Those words weren't just for the boys at Harrow School, they were for Churchill himself.
As those words were being uttered in October of 1941 Europe was falling. Hitler was taking more land, more territories and more countries. In the month of October alone he overpowered the two largest cities in Ukraine, putting him closer than ever to Moscow. By the end of the year he would have conquered more cities and taken control of the entire German army. Europe was in desperate trouble.
In 1941 the outlook for a victory over the Nazis looked bleak. Hitler was the one making the advances and gaining ground. The Nazi army was getting stronger, larger and more emboldened with each city they conquered. Meanwhile Churchill was doing all he could to keep Britain united in spirit and purpose. He made rousing speeches to boost the morale of Britain. He was the unifying force behind the Allied Forces of United States, Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.
For all of his optimism and will, Churchill was in real danger of defeat in 1941 when he spoke about never giving up. But that wasn't a first for Churchill. Before he even made it to military school as a teenager his future looked doomed. He failed the entrance exam...twice. With the help of a tutor he made it through on his third try.
After his military service he became a war corespondent for a newspaper - a career that almost ended his life. In hostile South Africa he was captured and thrown into a prison camp which he escaped by scaling a wall. But he had no plan. By the grace of God he found a British coal miner who helped him flee by hiding him for a few days before sending him on a coal train back to safety.
He soon entered into his political career in parliament where he would make another gigantic mistake that could have been his ruination. He planned an attack during WWI on the Ottoman Empire. To make a very long story short, it was an utter disaster. Many military members were killed, battleships sank and ground was lost. But Churchill persevered.
By 1941 Churchill had seen his share of defeat. Yet he had also seen how defeat wasn't the end of the story. A lost battle wasn't necessarily a lost war. A failed test score didn't have to be the final number on the books. Churchill had first-hand experience in second chances, redemption and victory.
The famous quote, "never, never, never give up" becomes all the more encouraging and inspiring when set in its context. If Churchill could still believe in determination and tenacity in the face of Nazi Germany, what should ever stop any one of us from staying the course with persistence and unstoppable tenacity?
Well, thankfully, we know how the story of World War II ends. You and I are here as a testimony to the defeat of Hitler. He didn't succeed. By the providence of God, the Nazis lost the war for this world. Their conquest fell as Hitler hid in a bunker. Churchill's words rang victorious as good conquered evil.

In the spirit of Churchill I am claiming his words as my own as I embrace his message of never giving up. On July 30 I will be receiving stem cell therapy to treat my MS. Churchill unified countries and bolstered nations as his act of fortitude and hope. This, stem cells, are my act of never giving up. I've tried so many different techniques and therapies in an attempt to overcome my foe, or at least manage its onslaught. But MS has not let up. Like Nazi Germany in 1941, MS has made further advancements and attacks on my body. Flare ups that were once relapsing now seem to be a permanent fixture in my every day existence. But I'm not giving up.
For the past few days I have been repeating Winston Churchill's quote in my mind. I've been writing about it and pondering it on my walks. As nervous and apprehensive as I am about this upcoming procedure, I am determined to keep up the good fight. I won't let MS steal my joy or stripe me of hope for the future. I've been knocked down more times than I can count but I'm not out. No, I'm very much still in the ring, throwing punches and fighting for dear life. The next step in my fight is to try something drastic. This procedure has worked wonders in the bodies of MS sufferers by taking tissue from the person's own body and extracting the healing benefits of stem cells so that they can be released back into the blood stream where they can get to work on repairing damage. There are no guarantees in this therapy, but there is hope. And as the saying goes, "Where there is hope, there is life." (Thank you, Anne Frank - another inspiration figure worthy of an entire post.)
Churchill must have known when he spoke those words that the deck was stacked against him. That fact was pretty much undeniable. But he had a hope that couldn't be extinguished even when bullets were killing his men and armies were threatening his country's security. His hope sprang eternal.
And so does mine because my hope is not in my body or even my health but it is in God. I believe that He has a plan for my life and I have faith in the promise of a hopeful future. God has not abandoned me or left me to suffer in anguish. He has given me a spirit of tenacity and never-ending hope. A thousand times things can fail or go wrong in my body and yet God's grace and mercy still remains on me. When my muscles spasm and pain radiates up my leg I have the solid rock of God that I am standing upon. I will never give up because God is still at work. His plan is underway. He simply isn't done with me yet.
So onto stem cells. Onto more hope for the future. Onto the adventure God has for this next step in my life. Onto never, never, never giving up.

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