Guest Writer: Jim Dell, Senior Military Liaison at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
When you think about Christmas and the holiday season, certain things tend to come to mind; presents, Jesus, time with friends and family, among other things. But some families will spend this season without their loved ones, I am referring to those families who have or had a loved one in the military.
Over the last ten plus years, our country has been at war, sending hundreds of thousands of men and women overseas, resulting in well over 3,000 who have lost their lives. Many have permanent physical injuries and even more have suffered mental and emotional injuries. All of which may result in significant differences in living and managing everyday tasks. While some of the effects from war may be visible to the naked eye, often times their scars lie well below the surface. While not every service member experiences combat or suffers life altering injuries, all service members have sacrificed.
During this time of war, many service members were deployed, missing important holidays, and family events to defend and serve our country. The time sacrificed can never be given back and can never be made up. The question often asked, “How do we serve those, who have given so much?” This is a fitting question, especially during this season, that often leaves many who ask at a loss, not really sure how or if anything they offer would be enough. I would propose the following as encouragement and a means by which to serve.
1 John 3:16-18 says: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
Christ set the example of true love; actions, not words, through sacrifice. Service members understand sacrifice, probably better than most, and many also better understand what it means to lay down one’s life for another. As Christ has sacrificed, we also must sacrifice in order to demonstrate love.
This can look very different from person to person:
- Families who have lost a member while in service to our country may simply need encouragement.
- While those with a military member deployed may need some help during this season with preparation.
- Military members may need a place to go during the holidays, someone with which to spend time.
- While others may need to know that what they do or what they did matters and is still relevant.
This time of year certainly presents its unique challenges, stresses, and time commitments. Many of us make many sacrifices for family and friends, but do we make sacrifices for those who don’t fall in those categories? What about those who have given so much, yet ask nothing in return? As you celebrate this Christmas season invite your service men into your homes, help prepare dishes for those who are missing their loved one’s this season. Show love one to another.
** Over the next few weeks on Mondays we will be featuring Dell as he helps us navigate Military Ministries in our community, but most importantly in our local churches.