Lather on the SPF 35 and throw some ribs on the grill, summertime is here. The Memorial Day holiday marks the beginning of the season of flip-flops and homemade strawberry ice cream. In the midst of our BBQ’s, parades, and family festivities let’s not also forget that it is a day of remembrance.
Today we remember the sacrifices made on battlefields in order that we may be hopeful for tomorrow. It is also true that for many soldiers returning home the battle continues to be fought.
A study released in July 2016 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs documented that in 2014 an average of 20 veterans per day died by suicide, with especially high rates among male veterans aged 18–29.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,” the psalmist cries out in Psalm 130. Like many men and women returning home from war, the author of the psalm has found himself in a place that he did not expect; a place that is fearful and dark.
The faith community must be committed to being with those in the depths of despair. We freely demonstrate compassion from the trenches because this is where God meets us. Through Jesus and the cross, God has come among us in our dark places. Despair is deep but the Good News we share is that joy is even deeper.
In Acts 16 the Apostle Paul and his travel companion, Silas, are arrested and imprisoned after performing a miracle on the streets of Philippi. As they pray and sing, an earthquake breaks open the prison cell doors. Thinking that his prisoners have escaped, the soldier guarding the prison doors draws his sword to kill himself. But Paul and Silas have not fled. They tell the prison guard, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
They stayed and shared with the soldier that his life had value. We can do the same. The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-TALK.
Thus, this Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate price while also praying that those around us who are still fighting a war within know that we are all here.