Hopelessness. It feels like a crushing death of every positive emotion. For many wounded warriors and their loved ones, as well as for those who grieve over the loss of a warrior, hopelessness wreaks an additional level of personal destruction that goes beyond the initial trauma. Is it any wonder that suicide is second only to combat as a cause of death for warriors?
Perhaps you are reading this at a time when your own injuries have attacked your sense of hope. Whether others want to describe your pain as PTSD or clinical depression or emotional shock, you just know that your soul hurts beyond description. And that tomorrow looks blacker than today.
You’re not alone. What you are experiencing is completely natural. As you study this Bible, keep in mind many of its lessons connect with people of faith who endured profound pain and loss — even the loss of hope. But before you consider some of those examples, ask yourself several key questions. The answers should remind you how precious your life is — even in the midst of your pain — and assure you your purpose in life is undiminished by your circumstances.
Your purpose in life is undiminished by your circumstances.
1. Why did I join the military?
Most warriors share a fundamental reason — love. That love may focus on a spouse or children, on extended family, on a home town. Sometimes we call it “love of country,” but that love is always clearest when connected to a few familiar faces and places. When love is your motivation for doing anything, you have chosen the best possible reason for that task. The apostle Paul wrote poignantly about love in his first epistle to the Corinthians. When you next give 1 Corinthians 13 a thoughtful reading, identify those character traits of love that connect with a warrior’s commitment to self-sacrifice. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends,” (John 15:13, NKJV).
2. What is the underlying motivation for the conflict to which I was deployed?
While the media may give a political spin to news from the front lines, you see the faces of local civilians and their families. You know first-hand what communities have endured, and you have seen the great cost required in order to defeat oppression and restore freedom. Yes, even in the midst of a noble conflict, there are those who pursue their own agendas. But the wrong motivation of the few does not erase the fundamental causes of freedom, justice and the establishment of a moral society. The pursuit of righteousness is the heart cry of every follower of God. The Psalmist said, “Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face” (Psalm 5:8, NKJV).
3. What steps were taken to rescue me?
On those days when you feel your self-worth waning, give some thought to the efforts made to bring you safely to a place where you can be treated and can heal. Some of the most inspiring narratives from the front lines connect with those warriors who direct all their energy to recovering wounded comrades. Your fellow warriors saw such value in you that they were willing to do whatever it took to rescue you. Their commitment to you is a wonderful reminder of God’s own commitment to you. “Stretch out Your hand from above; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters…” (Psalm 144:7, NKJV).
4. Who has cared for me today?
Look around you. If you are in a hospital, think of every member of the medical staff who has connected with you. If you are at home, count the family and friends who are making personal sacrifices to contribute to your care. Each person who offers some form of help, some word of encouragement, sees value in you and value in what you can contribute as well. Jesus told an amazing story of compassion in His parable of the Good Samaritan. When you have an opportunity to read Luke 10:25-37, consider the care the Samaritan gave to the injured man. Jesus pointed to such care as evidence of whether or not we value a person. You are valued by every person who gives of themselves to help you on your journey to healing.
5. What can I do to give someone else renewed hope?
Your life is precious. It also has continued purpose. Everything you have experienced can become a resource for identifying with someone else in their pain and helping them to regain hope. In another letter to the Corinthian church, Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NKJV). Think of it. God is offering to you His divine comfort as you face this difficult season in life. His comfort is more than momentary. It creates a reservoir of comfort you can share with other hurting people. As you grow in your awareness of others’ needs around you, you will discover your own needs are being met as well.
6. How does my life, even in my pain, fit into a bigger picture?
Perhaps your injuries have changed your life irreversibly. A loss of a limb, a permanent change in a bodily function, a disfigurement that cannot be erased—these are realities that appear to last forever. But the truest definition of “forever” is beyond this life. Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, “forever” holds enormous promise for every warrior who will take hold of it in faith. Jesus chose a path of pain and disfigurement and death in order to make that “forever” possible for you. And He is with you in your pain today, having promised never to leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). If you will trust Him, He will renew your purpose in the midst of your pain until a day when all pain will forever be erased. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away,” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).
If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.
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