At a time like this, on a weekend extended for this reason, we should take a moment of silent reflection. At a time when our nation is so deeply divided, with political factions threatening to tear the very threads at the foundation of our country, we should set those differences aside. Regardless of our political beliefs, we should all assume a quiet posture of humility and gratitude for those brave and heroic women and men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom we have to express our opinions.
May we not do anything to or with this nation to make their sacrifices mean nothing. Let us not destroy ourselves from inside the DC Beltway.
Although Memorial Day is set aside specifically to remember fallen soldiers, and as important as that is, I think it is no less heroic to walk into battle, towards the gates of hell, and come away with your life. So it is that, with humble gratitude, I thank all those women and men who have served in the armed forces to protect our liberty. God bless you all, and may God continue to bless America.
One last thing: it is OK–in fact, it is necessary for good mental health–to mourn our losses. This can be the loss of loved ones in battle–as is the focus of this Memorial Day weekend–or it can be other friends or family members we’ve lost in other ways. The loss of a job, or some other significant loss of a way of life. The loss of a political battle. Any loss needs to be mourned, and therefore processed through the stages of grief, in order to avoid becoming an ongoing obstacle to our mental health and stability.
In fact, in the very first sermon Jesus preached, right at the start of his ministry, he quoted from Isaiah (see Luke 4:18-19, for example):
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
Mourning is the first step in the journey of healing. Let us not shy away from this path, for we are a people of hope. The only way to be called “oaks of righteousness” and “a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” is to struggle through the valley of darkness and despair and come out the other side, bursting forth into the Light. That is where we can and will shake the ashes out of our hair and put on our crowns of beauty.