Honoring Our Veterans with Prayer
By Beth Patch
Two decades after World War I, which officially ended November 11, 1918, the U.S. passed legislation to have a legal holiday on each November 11th, honoring veterans who served in that war. As time marched on and more wars were fought, Veterans Day became a national holiday honoring American veterans of all wars.
Before personally knowing someone who fought in a war, I didn’t give much thought to Veterans Day, other than the commercial aspect of a few good sales. When I think of my previously flippant recognition of this important day, I am ashamed.
Before Bill went to fight in Iraq, he had a satisfying full-time job as an electrician with the same company for 25 years. His children were mostly out of the nest and he and his wife were looking forward to their retirement years. However, after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Bill joined the Virginia Army National Guard. They knew it could mean he’d be called to serve overseas if there were a need, but it seemed unlikely since the reserves had not been called up for war since World War II. It was shocking for his family when he left for the war in Iraq and was gone for 18 months.
His wife busied herself with work, children, grandchildren, and a hodgepodge of cats, dogs, fish and other random pets. Through it all, she missed her husband and struggled with fears of him never returning and the reality that she only got bits and pieces of information about what and how he was doing.
When he returned in 2005, she welcomed home a courageous and radically changed man who had lived through horrible events. He had spent his time away in chaos. He tells of entering a city where a beheaded man was leaned up against an entryway with a hand-written sign on his chest in Farsi translated, “This is what will happen to anyone who speaks to the Americans.” He tells of how deeply the enemy hates and wants to destroy all Americans. He carried the bodies of young men in his unit whose lives were cut short by the dining hall suicide bomber in Mosul. The horror stories could fill a book. His heart was broken for those in his unit who suffered and died; most of them young enough to be his son or grandson. He cried for their parents; knowing how devastating it would be to lose a child. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his war injuries during battle. He still struggles with the memories of all the evil, death, and danger. It shook his being so drastically that he has severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) along with physical pain from his injuries. He’s not able to return to work and has been deemed totally disabled.
So, for Bill and all other war veterans, a national holiday is hardly enough to show you our gratitude and respect. We can’t undo anything you’ve been through, but we can do what the Bible tells us to do – pray for you and love you.
King David, who commanded armies and trusted in the Lord during times of battle, wrote these words in Psalms 3:
O LORD, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, "God will never rescue him!"
But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.
Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O LORD. May you bless your people.
Some may question how God can allow the tragedies witnessed in war. This much is true: murder and strife came with the fall of mankind, Cain killed Abel, wars fill the pages of scripture, and God's chosen people hated and crucified His only son, Jesus Christ. But despite the evil deeds of mankind, God still showers people with love (John 3:16) and offers us eternal life with Him.
May we all feel the supernatural love of Christ to help us through times we still can’t make sense of and to guide us into His precious peace that surpasses all understanding.
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