John 15:13 reads, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
It is Sunday morning and as I sat down for my morning devotional, I received an e-mail telling me that today 22 veterans will commit suicide. Beloved, that is 8,030 this year alone! Now I know I have written about the lessons I learned from being in the Navy, but today I would like to share the greatest lesson the Navy has taught me; that is, we never leave a fellow soldier, airman, Marine or sailor behind. Unfortunately this is just what we are doing.
Did you know that more veterans will die as a result of suicide than being killed in combat? While I have never contemplated killing myself, many of you have and you understand that if someone does not step in to fill the void that is in that person’s heart, they will be lost.
So, why am I writing this article rather than reading my Bible? I believe that as Christians we need to reach out and make an effort to save these brave men and women that put their lives on the line for us every day. We need to understand that these brave people do not go in to the service because the government tells them to; instead, it is just the opposite. These men and women go in to the service because they believe that you and I are worth dying for. They believe that one life is nothing compared to the lives we leave at home. Because of this belief and their sacrifice of serving multiple tours of duty in a war zone, their lives and the lives of their families have been changed forever.
How do we as everyday citizens make a difference? How do we make a difference in their lives so that when Satan comes knocking and showing them all the things they have seen during their time fighting for you and making them feel the only way to stop the voices and images is to take their lives? As I sit here and think about what I can do, I start by stopping every service member I see walking down the street and saying, “Thank you for your service.” If they are in line buying something, I buy it for them as a reminder that they have not been forgotten. As a church I start a program where we honor these veterans and remind them that they will never be alone, that God is always with them but most of all I pray with and for them.
This world is so full of violence at home and abroad. I promise you these men and women have seen the worst of it. Without your help there may be another veteran who takes their life. We need to help them understand that their life means something to us but more importantly their life means everything to God. They need to know the words found in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Beloved, many of our church members have the skills to help our injured veterans. I ask you to reach out to them and develop a program in your church to help these people who are your neighbors. With your assistance we can truly make a positive difference in their lives!
2 Samuel 22:2-4
2 And he said:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.
4 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.”
These men and women need to know that God loves them and if you and I can help just one soldier, airman, Marine or sailor understand that they are not alone, then maybe today that number will be zero veterans killing themselves.