Yesterday, on 9-11’s 10th anniversary, I attended a call to duty ceremony for my son who is being sent to Afghanistan for a year with the Army National Guard. There are so many emotions, at least for me, that arise just by thinking about 9-11 and all of the tragedy that occurred on that day. Then, to add my son being sent into a war zone on the same day, it was a bit overwhelming. I found myself unable to control the tears when they played the national anthem, as I felt the strong sense of appointment my son had been given to protect our land and serve those who can’t help themselves.
Even now that my son is 30 years old, I still feel the pain of sending him into lands unknown and into dangerous situations. When we raise our children, we have hopes and dreams for them. Never in my wildest dreams did I dream of my son going to war, even when he marched around our house in fatigues pretending to be a soldier at a young age.
Seeing my son deployed, by far, is one of the hardest things as a parent I have ever endured. He has done it a couple of times before and every time, I hope and pray it is his last. As I reflect on my pain and fear in this situation, I was thinking about God. Oh, how His heart must’ve grieved when He knew that the only thing that was going to save all of creation was to send His Son onto the battlefield to die for the sins of others. I can’t begin to even imagine His pain. I know. He is God. He can see to the end of the story and know that it all comes out well. However, to know that you were purposely sending your Son to suffer and die would be gut-wrenching no matter who you are. It goes against every grain in our body to want to see our children suffer.
Although it’s not me leaving my spouse and small children to go across the seas to fight against someone else’s bad decisions, I am beginning to understand the sacrifice that is made. I see my granddaughters ask daily, “Where’s daddy? Is he coming home tonite? Does he still love us? Why isn’t he here?” Then there’s his wife that carries the load of two parents, so that her husband can go defend our country and keep it safe. I see the pain in my son’s eyes when he reflects on the reality he will be missing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the girls’ birthdays next year, too. These are all special blessings we enjoy as our families come together and celebrate on these occasions.
My son’s sacrifice is big. I am forever grateful for those serving in our military who daily give of their time, talents, and sometimes their lives, to keep those of us here in the U.S. safe from the enemy. I am also thankful for their spouses who stand by them in their call to duty.
God’s sacrifice is incomprehensible. How grateful I am that God loved us enough that He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for you and I. I’m not sure that if I were faced with His decision to send His son to die, that I could’ve made that one, no matter how many people would be saved in the process. I have plans for my son to go and come back just as He went—happy, healthy, and all in one piece—without any suffering.
In Jeremiah 29:11 the NIV version says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Can we not trust the One who was willing to sacrifice it all so that we could have hope and a future? Does this not say to us even when we don’t feel God’s presence near us that He loves us more than we can ever know? He wants the best for us even when we can’t see it sometimes. How can we question the One that was willing to sacrifice His Son’s life for us?
I pray that you never have to send a child into war or other sacrificial circumstances, but if you do, remember this. Your pain is nothing that your God in heaven hasn’t felt or understood. His heart grieves for you and your children as He truly knows your pain. When the call to duty comes to you in the days, weeks, months ahead, are you willing to make the sacrifice? Perhaps God will ask you to forego a vacation and pass the money along to an unemployed friend instead. Maybe He’s saying, ”You can drive that junker one more year so you can give a little more to your church this year so the pastor can finally be full-time. He may even want you to sell all you own and move to Africa to the mission field, yourself! Or, He may just be asking for 10 minutes of your time every morning to spend with Him. What is it He’s asking of you? Are you motivated to give Him your all after taking time to reflect on all He’s done on your behalf? I am. Here I am Lord, send me. (Isaiah 6:8)