When I came home from the war in Iraq I, like many other returning soldiers, was lost. During the previous year or so, our lives depended on our being aware of our surroundings, forever vigilant in crowds, super vigilant on the road, even on base—always on guard. However, when our commanders sent us home, they did not tell us how to de-escalate from that mindset, and many of us who returned home are still on guard almost 20 years later.
Many soldiers, including myself, had relied so heavily on God for peace, protection, and to keep us alive in the dangers of the Iraqi environment. When we got home and found ourselves in a comparatively safe environment, we forgot to rely on God for our needs. We forgot how good our life could be if we relied on Him every day. To remind myself of God’s omnipresence, I kept a picture of a cowboy riding a horse through a snowstorm, with a calf he had just rescued hanging over the horse. The caption read: “I have made, I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you (Isaiah 46:4).” For years, it stood as a reminder to me that, in the stormy parts of life, when it seems like there was no escape, God is there to guide me.
Jesus reiterates the truth that God is ever present in Matthew 28:20, where He says, “… I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” We are first given the assurance of God’s presence when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It is in Ephesians 3:14-19 that we are informed, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love (vv. 16-17).” In other words, once you accept Jesus Christ’s blood atonement for your sins and you trust in Him as your Lord and Savior, He dwells inside you forever. Amen.
Anxiety caused by PTSD, physical pain of simple wear and tear on the body from war or from permanent injuries sustained there, mental anguish from regret or past decisions, those things that keep you up at night, that haunt you daily—you do not have to face them alone. We Christians are told by God in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” When I fight these physical, mental, and emotional fights, when my brothers-in-arms fight these fights, I am reminded, and I remind them, that Jesus promises He will NEVER leave you, and He will NEVER forsake you. Standing on that promise in times of despair has helped to pull me through.
Jesus tells us in John 14:15-18 of the Spirit’s presence. He “will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, the he may abide with you for ever: even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth in you, and shall be in you (vv. 16- 17).” The Spirit “dwelleth in you” and “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” and He “will not leave you comfortless” for He “will come to you (John 15:18).”
From perilous times in Iraq, to moments I drifted from God, God was always there. I have outgrown the childish habits I had when I returned from battle and have gone back to praying fervently for peace, protection, and for Him to keep me alive. When I am fearful, I remember Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” And when I think I am lost, and I cannot find my way through the storm, I remember God said, “And even to your old age I am he, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you (Isaiah 46:4).”
The above article was written by Jonathan Thornton. He is a military veteran and member of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at email@example.com.
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Pastor Johnson preaches a "year-in-review" sermon, highlighting Paul's admonition for Christians to stand firm amid spiritual warfare.