The Stockdale Paradox

Recently, I learned that Kansas State University Research and Extension has extended its ban on face-to-face 4-H meetings and events through July 4, 2020. [1] This more than any other bit of news has brought home to me the fact that we are in this for the long haul.

Because we’re in it for the long haul (whether we want to be or not), I would recommend an article by Jim Collins (no relation) on what he calls the Stockdale Paradox. Said paradox is named after Admiral Jim Stockdale, the highest-ranking military officer held at the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Go read it here. I’ll wait.

Boiled down to it’s essentials (just in case you didn’t go read the article), the Stockdale paradox is that we have to have faith that we will prevail, and even that we will come out stronger on the other side, without denying the hard fact that we are in for a long, difficult time of it. [2]

Those of us who claim Christ as our Risen Savior know that one way or another, we will come out of this crisis stronger than we went in. Our faith tells us that in Jesus Christ—who conquered evil, sin, and death in his suffering, death, and resurrection—we will prevail. While we can do this, we must also acknowledge that this is going to be hard, and it’s going to take longer than any of us want it to. Jesus, the most faithful, fully-human being to ever walk the face of the earth, suffered. There is no reason to believe we can avoid doing likewise. But the Christ’s suffering and death were not the end of the story. This difficult time need not be the end of our story, either.

[1] “K-State Research and Extension Has Extended Its Ban on All Face-to-Face Extension Programs, Meetings and Events through July 4, 2020.,” K-State Research and Extension, accessed April 19, 2020,

[2] Jim Collins, “The Stockdale Paradox,”, accessed April 19, 2020,