In times of combat, it is very hard to feel anything Godly. Humans are trying to kill other humans and the horrors of wars become an evil act. The absence of God becomes overwhelming. We wonder how a loving God who blessed us with Jesus, would allow the carnage of war. We wonder how He could possibly forgive us for being a part of it. For soldiers, this is often the hardest personal crisis they face.
They are raised to love God and to be told how much God loves them. For Christians, they are reminded of the gift of Jesus, yet in moments of crisis they forget most of what Jesus went through.
Here are a few lessons and you don't even have to go to church to hear them.
( Matthew 8:5-13)
As he entered Caper'na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress." And he said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment.
This sounds like a great act Jesus did. You think about the Roman Centurion, powerful, commanding, able to lead men into combat, perhaps Jesus even knew of the other men this Centurion has killed. Yet this same man, capable of killing, was also capable of great compassion for what some regarded as a piece of property, his slave. He showed he didn't trust the pagan gods the Romans prayed to but was willing to trust Jesus.
Yet when you look deeper into this act, it proves that Jesus has compassion for the warriors. The life and death of Jesus were not surprises to Him. He knew from the very beginning how it would end. This is apparent throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. He knew He would be betrayed, beaten, mocked, humiliated and nailed to the cross by the hands of Romans. Yet even knowing this would come, He had compassion for this Roman soldier. The Romans had tortured and killed the Jews since the beginning of their empire as well as other conquered people. The Roman soldiers believed in what they were doing, yet even with that, there was still documentation of them suffering for what they did.
Ancient historians documented the illness striking the Greeks, which is what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is evidence this illness hit every generation of warriors. Jesus would be aware that saving the Centurion's slave, because of the faith and trust He placed in Jesus, would be reported from soldier to soldier. Jesus showed compassion even to the Romans.
How can we think that He would not show compassion to today's soldiers? How can we think that He would look any differently on them than He did toward the soldiers who would nail Him to the Cross?
God didn't send you into combat. Another human did. God however created who you are inside. The ability to be willing to lay down your life for the sake of others was in you the day you were born. While God allows freewill, for good and for evil, He also has a place in His heart for all of His children. We humans however let go of His hand at the time we need to hold onto it the most.
When tragedy and trauma strike, we wonder where God was that He allowed it to happen. Then we blame ourselves. We do the "if" and " but" over and over again in our own minds thinking it was our fault and the trauma was a judgment from God. Yet we do not consider that God could very well be the reason we survived it all.
PTSD is a double edge cut to the person. The trauma strikes the emotions and the sense that God has abandoned us strikes at the soul. There is no greater sense of loss than to feel as if God has left you alone especially after surviving trauma and war. If you read the passage of Jesus and the Roman, you know that this would be impossible for God to do to you. Search your soul and you will find Him still there.
For the last story on this we have none other than the Arch Angel Michael. The warrior angel. If God did not value the warrior for the sake of good, then why would He create a warrior angel and make him as mighty as he was?
Michael has a sword in one hand and a scale in the other. God places things in balance for the warriors.
And in John 15:
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
When it comes to waging war, issuing orders, God will judge the hearts and minds of those who sent you and He will also know your's. If you feel you need to be forgiven, then ask for it and you will be forgiven. Yet if you know in your heart the basis of your service was that of the willingness to lay down your life for your friends, then ask to be healed. Know this. That if Jesus had the compassion for a Roman how could He have any less compassion for you?
Because the military is in enough trouble already trying to evangelize soldiers for a certain branch of Christianity, understand this is not part of that. It's one of the benefits of having I don't care what faith you have or which place of worship you attended. If you were a religious person at any level before combat, your soul is in need of healing as well. There is a tremendous gift when the psychological healing is combined with the spiritual healing. If you have a religious leader you can talk to, please seek them out.