Memorial Day - Week of May 24th

By Judy Nichols

May 24, 2015

This is Memorial Day, when we remember those who gave their lives to secure and maintain our freedom. My father was just a child when World War 1 broke out and then was too old when the Second happened, but my father-in-law served in both of those conflicts. He was grievously wounded in the Argonne Woods in World War 1. Shrapnel entered his right side and exited his left shoulder. He was in the hospital for over a year recovering from his wounds.

Years later, in what might be termed a coincidence, his son, my husband, rented a room at college from the man who, it turned out, had been his father’s sergeant in the Army. This man said he was sure his private was a goner when he shoved his guts back into him and helped load him onto a stretcher.

I don’t say that to gross anyone out, but because we need to know that real suffering was endured by real people. In the same way, Hebrews 12:3 urges us to "consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Jesus, our Lord, was a real man who had the same kinds of emotions we do, the same physical body, the same temptations. He had real relationships with real people and real trust in God. Yet from the outset of his ministry, he faced opposition as well as adoration.

I can imagine the temptations He faced as he continually confronted the hardness of heart of the religious leaders. He probably alternately faced the desire to lash out in anger or to weep with despair. Perhaps some of those all-night prayer times with His Father saw some of that vented. I’m sure he was often disappointed in His own disciples’ lack of understanding, yet He never became impatient with them.

In the end He was betrayed by one of His own, denied by another, and abandoned by all. Knowing what was coming, I’m sure, was a huge emotional burden, as evidenced by His sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. At His trials, He was mocked, beaten, and spat upon. Many did not live through the Roman beatings, so you can imagine the pain He endured. Crucifixion, done naked and in public, was designed to inflict the maximum of both humiliation and pain. And then, there was the excruciating experience of the just wrath of God as He took the sin of the world – yours and mine – upon Himself.

My father-in-law survived his wounds and lived to the age of eighty-one. Jesus Christ died but rose again and lives forever. Just as we honor those who died in the service of America and pledge ourselves to strive against evil and oppression, so may we do homage to the One who secured our eternal freedom from sin and death and pledge ourselves to strive against the temptations and influences that would lead us away from God.

© Judy Nichols 2015

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