Memorial Day reminds us of the courage of all who have served our nation in the armed forces.
In his Gettsyburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of our human limits at the place of the battle when he said, “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Many veterans living today are inspired by President Lincoln’s convictions, and cherish the courage of their companions from the days shared during their service for our country. Still there are many others who read those words who have no military experience. The idea of “courage” might seem remote or unattainable to us. Yet courage is a critically important attribute among all people. Samuel Johnson wrote, “Unless a man has courage he has not security for preserving any other virtue.” Wisdom would be meaningless unless we have the courage to act on it. Love is without value unless we possess the courage to demonstrate it. Truth has little importance unless we have the courage to speak it. And faith lacks meaning without the courage to live it. Courage brings all virtue to life and light.
The Bible reminds us that as followers of Jesus we are in a war. The conflict is not with humans, but rather with powers from a dark spiritual world. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12) Our courage and strength come from God.
Among the great military figures of the Bible, Joshua stands out as an example of courage. Joshua was told by God, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) God’s promise remains for all of time and for all of us. Wherever we go He will be with us. Whatever we’re facing, we can have courage!
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com