Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. —John 15:13 NIV
War changes you. Whether you’re the soldier who swallows down fear and plunges ahead in defense of your country or the wife left behind smiling through tears and trying to find courage deep within your quivering self … war changes you.
War changes you. Whether you’re an ordinary citizen suddenly caught in the midst of a firefight or a child injured by a bomb or a family that has had to leave everything behind and run. Literally run. To save your very lives … war changes you.
There’s nothing pretty or sweet or easy about war. It’s violent by nature. It’s bravery and courage and valor and cowardice and bullying and cruelty. It brings out the best in some of us and the worst in others. It’s big. It’s mammoth. It consumes. And it changes you.
I’m the wife of a Persian Gulf War veteran. If there could ever be a “simple” war, this would be it. Short in duration (42 days) and relatively low in casualties (383 reported by military.com). However, it wasn’t simple for the families of those 383 soldiers who died. It was still seismic in the way it affected those involved. It was still war. I remember the fear, the sense of loss, the helplessness watching my husband walk away on December 15, 1990, wondering if I’d ever see him alive again. No, that wasn’t simple. And every soldier there, including my husband, had moments that called for courage and bravery and strength beyond what he thought he could give. And yet each soldier pushed and gave and held it together. That wasn’t simple either. War changes you.
I’m grateful that we have a Veteran’s Day. Those who choose to serve their country and fight to free others are a strong and vulnerable tribe. Strong, because they lay aside their own sense of self-preservation to preserve the freedoms of others. Vulnerable, because that act of bravery costs. Costs through lingering memories, persisting illnesses, and often broken relationships that cannot be mended.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV). Our soldiers do this. They’re willing to lay down their lives to protect their fellow soldiers. They’re willing to lay down their lives so that people they don’t even know in far-away lands can live in freedom.
Is every war just? No. Is there injustice even in wars with clearly drawn battle lines and even when oppressed people are set free? Oh, yes. We are a messy lot, we humans. Even at our best, we often hurt when we aim to help. But those who go to fight with the pure motive of helping the weaker and defending them? They deserve a day that is just about them.
We see you, veteran. We recognize that you carry scars seen and unseen. We acknowledge that you walk paths fraught with danger that we will never fully understand. We thank you for laying aside your own freedoms and well-being for the sake of others.
Thank you for your service.
Dear God above, today especially, please be near those who have fought in war and those who have suffered in war. Heal wounds. Whisper hope. Draw all nearer to Yourself and to Your Son, Jesus, who laid down His life for us all. In His Name I pray, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
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