The Ultimate Sacrifice
“Dear Mom and Dad,
It looks like we may go overseas for duty in two or three months. I don’t think we will ever go in the fighting zone. The old saying is ‘a good soldier never dies’ so don’t think too much about it. I’m one of the best!
That letter postmarked July 16, 1944, was from my husband’s Uncle Gene, a 28-year-old infantryman in the Army in World War II. Unfolding that yellowed letter was like taking a 68-year step back in a time machine.
Our family was going through a difficult but necessary task when we found that letter. My mother-in-law died, so we were going through all her worldly goods, preparing to sell her house. What should be saved? What should be discarded? Even the smallest items evoked memories we didn’t want to let go of, and the emotions attached to certain items were heartrending.
In one drawer, we found visitors’ registers from funerals of my husband’s grandparents. We found Gene’s letter stuck in one of those books. My mother-in-law, Gene’s sister, was his last surviving sibling, so she inherited all the papers relating to his military service.
In a large manila envelope, I found a letter from the U.S. Army dated December 7, 1944: “It is with profound regret that I confirm the recent telegram informing you of the death of your son …” One month later a proclamation signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded Gene the Purple Heart “for wounds received in action resulting in death.”
Also included in his papers was a picture of a U.S. Military Cemetery where Gene was buried in Limey, France, with row upon row of white crosses stretching as far as the eye could see. A letter from the War Department states: “Here rest the remains of those heroic dead who fell together in the service of our country. It is my sincere hope that you may gain some solace from this view of the surroundings in which your loved one rests.”
As I looked at that picture of those white crosses, a profound sadness came over me. I thought: That old saying, “good soldiers never die,” is not true! Rain falls on the just and on the unjust! He gave the ultimate sacrifice. How can I make sense of this?
Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, wrote similarly negative words as he pondered the meaning of life. He said,
“We all share a common destiny [physical death] — the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad …” Ecclesiastes 9:2 (NIV)
And regarding the time of death, Solomon wrote:
“No one knows when their hour will come … men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” Ecclesiastes 9:12 (NIV)
Solomon wrote these words around 935 B.C., nearly a millennium before the birth of Christ. The Old Testament writers had only a vague idea of life after death, but present-day believers have the gift of the New Testament. We know that physical death is followed by the promise of eternal life.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)
Christians are instructed to live “not as those with no hope.” None of us can escape physical death, but we can choose to live in eternal life when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Take comfort in the words of Jesus,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice. Our sins are forgiven because of what He did on the cross for us. Rejoice that we will be in heaven with Him.
Veterans Day Prayers to Honor and Uplift Our Veterans
By: Sarah Frazier, crosswalk.com
Did you know there are over sixteen million living veterans who have served in at least one war? Over two million of those veterans are women and nearly ten million of all veterans are over the age of 65. Can you imagine being a part of a group of men and women who are ready to defend our country from war? To be willing to leave family, friends, and comforts to keep us safe? It is only fitting we would have a special day to honor them.
For me, it’s very personal. Both of my grandfathers served in at least one war. My brother is in the Army and my cousin is in the Navy. It is not lost on me that they could be called upon to leave us and go overseas. Not until I was touched by the military in my own family did I fully grasp the depth of the sacrifice of veterans.
A veteran is a word that simply means someone who is experienced in a field. But in our country, we also call those men and women who serve (or have previously served) in our military and in any branch a veteran.
Most of us remember September 11, 2001. One of the most striking things about the days following were the men and women who stepped up to protect our country. Why? Because they saw the threat of evil in this world and wanted to shield others from danger.
No matter your political affiliation or stance on the War on Terror, we can all agree that the men and women who serve deserve our thanks. One beautiful way to say “Thank You” is to pray for them. They must certainly have their struggles, and we cannot know the depths of what they go through on a daily basis.
Prayer is a way for us to say thank you and let them know we have not forgotten them. As we pray for our veterans, maybe one of the following prayers will help you put into words what is on your heart.
1. A Prayer for those Who Have Lost Loved Ones in Service
For those who have lost loved ones because of war, prayer can bring healing to the family members who remain. Since 2006, over 16,000 U.S. soldiers have died while in active duty. That’s over 16,000 families and loved ones still missing their son or daughter; wife or husband; brother or sister.
Heavenly Father who sees all of the hurt, comfort the hearts of those who have lost loved ones in the military. It might seem to us “unfair,” but You are the God who ordains our days. Let us remember those families are still grieving today. Remind them of Your love for them. Their loss provides for us a safe place to live and worship You. Keep those families close to Your heart today. Comfort them and let them know we do not forget their loved one’s sacrifice. Amen.
2. A Prayer for Veterans with Wartime Wounds
Over the years I’ve seen many statistics, but each number is in truth a person and a family. Can we spend a moment to pray for those who have served and now live with either the scars of war or the heartache of seeing their fellow soldiers die? There are men and women still hurting from wartime wounds.
O Great God, look down on those people today who are suffering. No one is immune to suffering, but today we want to pray for those still hurting from wartime wounds. They have seen heartache, held sorrow close to their heart, and now they suffer. Begin a new work in their life today. I pray for those men and women who have served. Let them feel your comfort. Help them seek the help they might need. And let them know we do not forget them or their service. Amen.
As believers we owe our veterans a deep debt. It is because of their sacrifice we are free to worship God. You and I go to church, worship, have Bibles, and serve God without fear of being put into prison or put to death. It is in large part due to their sacrifice we have these freedoms.
So thank a veteran today and pray for them because they are one of the biggest reasons we are free to worship as we please.
O God, we give you praise for these people who have allowed us to serve and worship You in freedom. We do not take for granted that there are millions of Christians around the world afraid of prison or even death because of what they believe. Our veterans are a significant reason why we do not fear and we thank You for them. Amen.
Why is Praying for Veterans Significant to Christians?
Posting on social media is nice, but what if you really began to think about those in your life who are serving in the military? With so many, I’m sure we all know of at least one person. Prayer can help us thank them, but it can also help us remember they need support.
We might not be able to directly help with the trauma or the isolation they feel, but we can offer prayers of comfort to a God who can help them.
Christians have a different perspective because we know the power of prayer. God can change hearts and heal wounds in very unique ways. Although physical pain will linger and emotional pain might need outside help, praying for these men and women is a start. So let prayer help guide you and remind you of these amazing veterans.
“Such people … are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” – Roman 16:18 NLT
The Bible has many good things to say about being simple; however, some make the Gospel complicated so that not everyone can grasp its principles.
Jesus frustrated critics by appealing directly to ordinary people, teaching with parables anyone could understand. While we should seek to go deeper, the basic tenets are so simple a child could understand them. Jesus said we must become like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-3).
Paul, too, sought to communicate in ways that were plain and clear. He warned against anything that would lead them astray from their “pure and undivided devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). He didn’t want to water down the power of “the simple message of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:17 TLB).
While child-like faith is important, we are warned against being “simple-minded” (TLB) – naïve and easily manipulated. This can be a tricky balance. We are to have faith like a child and trust God without doubts and believe His Word without question. At the same time, we are to be on guard against being simple-minded and gullible.
How do we find the balance? First, make sure to fill your mind with God’s Word. Make it your standard point of reference. Spend time in fellowship with the Father. Be alert for people with ideas that sound convincing, but which ultimately are deceptive. Stay on guard. Listen to the Spirit’s leading.