In the past few days the victims of the Castro kidnapping in Cleveland, Ohio, released video in which they appear remarkably fit and well adjusted. Those covering the story in the media marveled at their recovery and how only a few months after the 10 year ordeal they were looking well with bright smiles and very optimistic outlook.
As I listened to various clips from the video I was struck with a few common threads that seem to account for their ability to “bounce back” so quickly.
1. Their faith
The girls made references to their faith and prayers. Many in our society will make such faith references in a passing sense, but the girls seemed to be genuine in their crediting faith and prayer for their survival.
2. Their family
The support of their families both throughout the 10 years of imprisonment (keeping their disappearance before authorities, posting flyers, continuing searches) and as they have been reunited in recent weeks.
3. Their gratitude
They continually expressed their gratitude to their rescuers, those who have shown support, the community, etc. Rather than continuing to see themselves as victims and playing up that aspect of their experience — they instead were grateful for the new lease on life they have been given.
Similar themes can be seen in the recovery of other victims of such captivity — for example Elizabeth Smart.
As Disciples we sometimes can find ourselves in dire circumstances. Life happens. Satan “kidnaps” our lives through various situations (illness, unemployment, sin, death) and attempts to hold us prisoner. Christ frees us by his grace — but we still have to survive the trauma. We still have to recover.
1. Faith — continual focus upon Christ and his grace. The Communion service in scripture was central to worship. They meet regularly and it appears weekly to “break bread” and remember. Keeping the saving work of God through Christ before us on such a regular basis can help us recover from the consequences of Satan’s work.
2. Family — It may be our biological family or it may be the family of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, but either way Christianity is at its best in relationship. It is not by chance that God’s greatest commands revolve around relationship: Love the Lord your God with all your Heart and Mind — and Love your Neighbor as Yourself.
3. Gratitude — Living with an “attitude of gratitude” is woven throughout the New Testament instructions to the church. Praying and living with thanksgiving keeps us focused outward rather than allowing us to wallow in self-pity.
Are you a survivor? Can you help someone near you become a survivor?