In the Middle of the Battle

I have mentioned a few times that one of my favorite things to watch on TV these days are interviews on YouTube of World War II veterans, put together by the Veterans Story Project. Usually, the interviewer behind the camera asks a question or two, and then sits back and just listens for 45 minutes to an hour as a real-life hero tells his story.

There are hundreds of such interviews on YouTube, with men from “the greatest generation” giving their personal accounts of their experiences in the war. Many of them didn’t talk about the war for a half century or so after they came home, but now their family members–and organizations like the VSP–are having them share their stories while they are still with us. Most do so with humility, and with amazing detail, especially considering it’s been 75 years since the end of the war.

I was watching an interview a few weeks back of a former Marine who had served in the south Pacific, including major battles in Guam, Pelileu, and eventually Iwo Jima. He recounted names and places like it was yesterday, and stories of humble heroism from the battlefield–including his own that earned him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. But the one thing I found most interesting was that he said he had no idea really where they were or the importance of the battles at the time, and only realized the significance after he came home. All he knew was they had to take a hill or two, there was someone on the other side trying to kill them, and they just wanted to keep each other alive to win the war and go home to their families. It was only when he read the dramatic stories of the battles in newspaper and magazine accounts when he got home that he realized what he was apart of.

I have found that to be true in many areas of life. In the middle of the moment, all you are trying to do is survive, but when you look back, you see the bigger picture, and what God was up to through the whole process. It’s only then that you can truly begin to understand His work and His will.

I say all that to say that in the social media driven world of 2020, we are reminded daily of the battles we are fighting, the drama we experience, and the struggles we face each day. You can always count on someone telling you how hard life is these days, even if it’s through a comical meme. When you hear all the negative, all the time, and realize you’re in the middle of a war, it’s easy to feel like giving up. It’s no wonder that one of the biggest crises of the whole debacle we call 2020 will be the mental health issues it has brought us.

And here’s the point. The perspective in the middle of the battle is often distorted. But you don’t need to be overwhelmed, and you don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t kneed to know the outcome of the COVID pandemic, or how the November election is going to turn out. You don’t have to fix all the issues of social justice, climate change, the economy, and everything else to survive this year. You just need to put one foot in front of another, seek to do the Lord’s will for the day He has set before you, and trust that He will work it all out on the other side. He is faithful.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

So just exhale. He’s got this. And we’re in this thing together. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

–Pastor Ken