One could easily get the wrong impression when our unit conducts training exercises.
Training sometimes forces our Soldiers to take a 23–hour bus ride instead of a 3–hour flight. One might easily conclude that our unit conducts training “on the cheap”. Training sometimes makes us live on MREs and water or to sleep in miserable conditions. One might suspect that our unit is trying to save a buck at the Soldiers’ expense.
Yet when I checked out the budget I was shocked to see how much money was actually spent. To be sure, a large amount of that money is applied to the cost of field equipment. There are vehicles, tents for our Early Entry Command Post (EECP) and Main Command Post (MCP). There are upgrades to communications equipment for briefings, containers for the storage and transport of sensitive items. All of these as opposed to amenities to make Soldiers more comfortable. So, despite the austere living conditions for Soldiers, these training events are costly endeavors.
We could also just look and read about the life of Jesus and get the wrong idea as to its significance and cost. When we look at Jesus’ abject poverty and total obscurity we might conclude His coming was a very insignificant event. While He lived upon the earth Jesus was forced to travel everywhere by foot. He had no place in this world to call His own. He was born in a stable. (Luke 2:7) Throughout His life He was homeless. (Matthew 8:20) And even in His death He had no grave of His own to rest His battered body. (Matthew 27:57–60)
No, Jesus never exhibited any pomp and majesty. He never cut in line or pulled rank to get His own selfish way. We might be tempted to think that His first coming was a very cheap affair and not extraordinary. In His first coming, Jesus received no glory, no fame, and no earthly reward except persecution, betrayal, and death.
More Than Meets the Eye
Many Bible readers conclude that the first coming of Christ didn’t have the significance that His second coming will have. When Jesus comes it is in power and great glory. We might read the gospels with the impression that Christ’s first coming in humility was done “on the cheap”. During the times of the apostles, this apparent “insignificance” of Jesus’ life was certainly a stumbling block for the Jews.
Yet we’d be consummately wrong. The redemptive work of Christ in His first coming was of infinite importance and virtually bankrupt heaven in its cost. (Romans 8:32) All the “heavy lifting” was done in Christ’s first coming. That’s when the supreme spiritual battle was fought—at the Crucifixion. (Luke 11:20–22; John 19:30; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8) That’s where God laid the sin of the world upon the Lamb of God. (Isaiah 53:6; John 1:29, 35; 1 Peter 2:24) That’s when God poured out the full fury of His wrath upon Jesus. (Romans 3:25–26; 1 John 2:2)
In contrast, the Second Coming of Jesus will be merely a “mopping up” operation. The victory over sin, Satan, and death all took place at Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.
A Different Perfect
The austere conditions in which Jesus lived were somewhat misleading to us. In reality, Christ’s troubled life was all part of the Father’s plan. It was God’s way to perfect Jesus as our ever-approachable Savior. So that He might be a compassionate and understanding great High Priest to us. For by Jesus’ sufferings we are assured that Jesus knows by personal experience what each of us suffers. (Hebrews 2:9–10, 18; 4:14–16; 5:8–10)
Similarly, the adverse conditions in which we Soldiers train are not merely a cost-cutting measure. So, they are meant to enhance the training experience and push us to our limits. Christ’s austere life was His training in God’s School of Hard Knocks. So that He might more effectively bear our burdens and carry our sorrows. (Matthew 11:28–30)
So when we, in both training exercises and in life, are tempted to complain that the adversity we face is unfair to Soldiers. Or if we think such adversity is “unbefitting” a child of God, then remember this. Our adversity is where all the significant work is done and where all the decisive battles are fought.
Therefore, don’t despise the Lord’s discipline or the Army’s. Accept it all as part of God’s training—to prepare Soldiers for battle and to prepare His people for eternity (Hebrews 12:3–11).
Dear Father in heaven, grant that I may not lose heart in my service to You nor in my preparation for heaven. Amen.