This Memorial Day I’ve been reminded of a passage in Joshua that has been on my mind for weeks. The message is: be strong and courageous. It is the Lord’s command to Joshua as he succeeds Moses and leads Israel into the Promised Land. It is a word of encouragement for those who serve in the military and accurately describes those who have died in service to their country.
When I consider the training soldiers get to prepare themselves for combat I see a great illustration of spiritual warfare. They have to train, daily, and have the discipline to develop the kind of habits and responses that will save them in combat. The combat environment is chaotic, violent, loud, and fills men with self-doubt. Those men who are able to overcome their fear, block out the distractions, and press on are able to persevere.
That immediately sends my mind to writings of Paul regarding our spiritual battle and how we fight. In spiritual warfare we are always engaged in combat no matter the time or place. Victory in this fight also requires strength and courage—and sacrifice. As Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Those who persevere and endure to the end will be glorified and it will all be worth it. The Navy SEALs say that it pays to be a winner. God agrees.
I believe spiritual warfare is much more challenging than combat. We fight a different kind of enemy. We also have to fight against our own flesh. In this war the Word is our service weapon and prayer is our PT. Every day we must overcome our strong desires and inclinations and pursue God’s kingdom and His righteousness. If we put our faith in His promises, though, then He will safeguard us to the end.
This Memorial Day remember those who have fallen and thank those who put their lives on the line today. Also, remember the spiritual war in which you fight. I thank God for this new land of promise in which we live and feebly appreciate the price this liberty requires.