Strength of a Soldier

Leave a comment

Strength seems to be a popular subject these days.  As I have conversations with friends and family, the issue of strength has come up in one form or another.  As I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed, I see so many posts and quotes regarding strength.  With Memorial Day coming up, I believe that the topic of strength seems to be a suitable blog entry.

Memorial Day is a time where America remembers the brave people who provided the ultimate sacrifice so that the citizens may live freely.  I have the utmost respect for everyone who has served and is currently serving in all branches of the United States Military.  If you are reading this and you are a veteran or in active duty, thank you for your service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWrMeBR8W-c  (Toby Keith – American Soldier)

This particular entry widens the boundaries to the extent where every person is considered to be a soldier.  I was never in the military, and you may not have served in the military, but the fact is we are all soldiers of life.  We all have our own battles to fight.  They may not consist of fighting with guns or the latest weapon technologies against those who wish harm against our families and country, but our greatest battles are fought in our minds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc  (Rachel Platten – Fight Song)

Soldiers in the military are trained to be strong mentally and physically.  The purpose is to make sure every person will be fit for battle and for the enemy not to find any weakness.  From the perspective of a regular individual, what are your enemies?  Addiction?  Anxiety?  Anger?  Depression?  Hopelessness?  Insecurity?  Loneliness?  Oppression?  From the perspective of a Christian, I guarantee you that the enemy knows every weakness you have and will use it in every opportunity that you provide.  That is why the Bible gives clear instructions:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

There are times when we have to act strong in front of others so that there is a sense of security and stability.  There are times when we need to just drop the act and just be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God.  Being able to discern on when and where these times take place is critical to keeping up with reality and being able to stay reasonable.  My suggestion is to be honest first with your relationship with God because if there is a problem with that relationship, then all the other issues will seem much more significant than they really are.  In our weakness, God is our strength; that requires us to have a close and personal relationship with Him so that we are better able to handle the challenges in this world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLLy4oSLGN4  (Mark Schultz – He Will Carry Me)

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, we read the following passage:  And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

What can we learn from this?  There will be storms in our lives that will try to break us in any possible way and those storms will succeed if we allow them to.  1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” After the fire, we will hear the voice.  The voice of hope.  The voice of joy.  The voice of love.  The voice of everlasting life.  Just as Elijah went out and stood at the entrance of the cave, we must go out and stand once more for another day of battle until Jesus returns to us or He calls us home.  At least once a day, find a quiet place and let your heart open up for Jesus to take up all the hurts and fill it in with His Spirit that consists of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3Wf2ptiAbk  (Jeremy Camp – Christ in Me)

For those of you who have doubts or straight out do not believe in the Christian faith.  Let me tell you about my experience.  It was not my strength that had me function after I was informed that my mother had passed away.  It was not my strength that allowed me to sleep at night and get up every morning and return to my daily grind with my mother no longer around.  It was not my strength that allowed me to go to work just hours after receiving the news that my grandmother had passed away.  Unfortunately, not even a year went by before I lost two close family members that played significant roles in raising me to the man I am today.  It certainly is not my strength that is keeping me writing to this very day.  I may not be posting as many blog entries as I have before, but I continue to observe and note the everyday experiences that I have and witness to those around me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD1QMSYKL6Q (Jeremy Camp – Same Power)

 

Dealing With Grief

1 Comment

On April 25, 2015, my mom went home to be with the Lord at age 55. I had known that she was suffering in this life, but I did not know how much until I talked with her doctor a few days after her passing. I knew that my mom has had type 2 diabetes most of her life and as a result developed other medical complications from that such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of spaces in the spine caused by degeneration of joints and discs). A few years ago, she was diagnosed with CHF (congestive heart failure) and her doctor had informed me that she had severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe). About a month prior to her passing, it was discovered that her kidneys were in bad shape due to an infection and dialysis was recommended but my mom refused that treatment knowing how bad her COPD was she felt there was no point to go through the mental and physical side-effects dialysis would bring. Some facts that have given me comfort is that my mom did not want to be on life support or pass away in a hospital. She got what she wanted by passing away in her sleep at home. She also did not want to be seen by a lot of people for a funeral service. I discovered that funeral expenses can add up very quickly to thousands of dollars so since my mom did not have life insurance and I did not have money to pay for a large funeral, especially if it was just going to be a closed casket service, my mom got that wish as well. I complied to her final wish by having her cremated and her ashes are now in an urn behind a couple of pictures of her in the living room.

https://youtu.be/WmIqYDAncOs (When You Come Home by Mark Schultz)

It is never an easy feeling to witness suffering, especially when a person is a family member who you dearly love and care for. In the worst times of my mom’s sufferings, I shared in that suffering to the point where my entire body would just numb up and I would have no specific feelings at all, just a combined mix of feelings to the point where my body would just blank them all out. That is what I felt the day before my mom passed and have been feeling at random times since then. Although I was in emotional shock and felt completely numb, I was also at peace because I knew that my mom was no longer in pain or suffering. She went to be with the HEALER, the very presence of LOVE. It is no coincidence that my mom wrote out lyrics to this song and had that piece of paper in an easy place to find:

https://youtu.be/XRlYbgagnN8 (Wish You Were Here by Mark Harris)

The thoughts and prayers from family members and friends have also played an important role in my loss. As a good friend of mine always says, “isolation is bad and community is good.” If we did not have other people in our lives, life would be a lot more difficult than necessary. Most importantly, if we do not have Jesus Christ in our life, we would be completely lost, especially in the hard times. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. When he lived on earth, he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

https://youtu.be/oI_h_IRfRe8 (Somebody’s Praying by Ricky Skaggs)

Max Lucado described the experience of brokenness as this: “Before your pain, the view was clear; God seemed so near. After your pain, well, he was harder to see. He seemed a bit distant…harder to perceive. Your pain distorted the view—not eclipsed it, but distorted it.” Although there have been times in my life where my view was distorted, I believe that it was because of those times that when I found out that my mom had passed away, my view of God became more clear and I knew without a doubt that He was closer to me at that moment more than ever. I greatly enjoy this one quote: “God’s light in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them. When God comes, we doubters think, all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain. And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. But it is in the burnished candles that God comes, and through whispered promises he speaks: ‘When you doubt, look around; I am closer than you think.” Healing begins in a place where our grief merges with God’s grace.

https://youtu.be/Qni5bIN5qmU (Amazing Grace by Celtic Thunder)

I have been noticing, lately more than ever, that in spite of all circumstances, there seemed to be just enough to make it through the day. There has been just enough food, there has been just enough money, there has been just enough comfort for the day. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.’ So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.” When sorrow comes and we begin to fall apart, the best place to be is on our knees so that in the midst of our chaos, God can bring order. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I like how the last few words of that verse is worded. When our heart gets broken and our mind becomes confused, we only need to call on Jesus and he will see us through it all. He is always with us walking with us in the good times and carrying us in the bad times. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

https://youtu.be/DavJ9UKS2ps (Your Not Alone by Owl City)

Max Lucado comments on Lamentations 3:1-66 as: “Jeremiah’s sorrow and consolation represented the nation’s agony. Surrounded by sin and sorrow, Jeremiah saw hope in God’s steadfast love and mercy. God renews our lives day by day.” Because God renews our life each day, we should take to heart the passage from Job 22:21-22: “Obey God and be at peace with him; this is the way to happiness. Accept teaching from his mouth, and keep his words in your heart.” The promises of Scripture can give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful, love to the lonely, and peace in the commotion.

https://youtu.be/JsLk-Prtsn0 (Your Love Is Like A River by Third Day)

I encourage everyone to check out the following organizations to see how you can support them:

American Diabetes Association
http://www.diabetes.org

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org

I would like to conclude this entry with 1 Peter 5:6-12: “Be humble under God’s powerful hand so he will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith. You know that your Christian family all over the world is having the same kinds of suffering. And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. All power is his forever and ever. Amen…I wrote this short letter with the help of Silas, who I know is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote to encourage you and to tell you that this is the true grace of God, Stand strong in that grace.”

https://youtu.be/7ttTfcu8gQo (Mercy Said No by Greg Long)