Yesterday, I shared an epiphany that occurred while standing before the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was a scene that opened my eyes to see each name and wrap my heart around each life that was given. However, there was an aspect of the story that I did not tell you, a part of my contemplations that I did not share.
So today I want to share that piece with you. Today, the day after Memorial Day, I want to continue the journey we’ve started in truly remembering and honoring the fallen by bringing awareness to the broken survivors and loved ones who are left behind.
This was an emotion I was vaguely familiar with having heard stories from my Vietnam veteran uncle. However, it wasn’t until that moment as I witnessed the scene before the Vietnam Memorial that I truly saw and understood the depth of brokenness, guilt, confusion, and pain bottled up within survivors—both fellow comrades-in-arms and family members.
A common question uttered before that vast sea of names was “Why?” “Why you and not me?” as fellow soldiers found the names of friends who never made it home. Or as fathers and brothers knelt before their loved one’s name, they asked, “Why couldn’t I go in your place?” “Why did it have to be you?”
As I watched this scene unfold before me, my heart was broken for the lost. For these survivors had no hope or answers to their questions. Apart from Christ and His redemption and God’s sovereignty, death seems random and without purpose, especially on the battlefield. As friends and comrades fall on the right and left, what else would a survivor feel but guilt?
Without faith in the living, sovereign God, what other reaction could we expect in light of the apparent injustice of it all?
Not only do survivors deal with guilt and pain over the deceased, but veterans also navigate the mental and emotional scars inflicted during battle. While they may have walked away with their lives, they have by no means been left unaffected. Many of our warriors leave as idealistic, enamored boys excited for the thrill of war, but return seasoned, hardened, and internally broken men.
Some may carry physical scars and reminders of the horrors of war and the sacrifices they made, but many more bear the often hidden and disguised emotional and mental wounds. They come back mentally and emotionally broken, perhaps physically injured, and guilt ridden over the fact that they actually made it home.
It is no wonder that they desperately ask “why” questions! However, outside of faith in God there are no answers to the inquiries they pose. Only God can answer these heartfelt questions. And only in absolute trust and faith in His sovereignty can the wounded warrior find peace, healing, and wholeness.
Healing for the Wounded
So it is our duty, as Christians and grateful citizens of America, to honor the sacrifices our veterans have made and point them to the only One who can heal them. Though they may wear a tough and strong exterior, inside many of them are lost, hurting, broken, and wounded individuals. They desperately need the healing power of God’s grace, mercy, and peace through Jesus Christ and the assurance that God has all things under control and that He is the one who determines each man’s length of days. As the LORD declares in Deuteronomy 32:39:
“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”
Therefore, pray for our veterans, their families, and the families of those who have lost loved ones. Perhaps more than any other American, these people need the redemption, love, and grace found only in the cross.
Also, consider how you may support ministries like Samaritan’s Purse and the powerful work they are doing through Operation Heal our Patriots. An organization that actively reaches out and rescues our broken soldiers, showing them the way to the Father and bringing healing one wounded soul at a time.
Freedom is Not Free
For some it cost them their lives, others their loved ones, and yet others paid the price in peace of mind, innocence, and emotional stability. So as a grateful people, let us not forget their sacrifice or take lightly the cost of our freedom. But let us remember the fallen, honor the survivor, and bring healing to the broken.
“But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”
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