God Understands Soldiers

Despite dangers, unit morale high in KandaharSigns and times unfolding around a soldier can be quite overwhelming and most days it would be nice to be understood by someone outside the military. Since our nation has not been at war as a “nation at war” truly since WWII, soldiers can begin to feel that society at large does not understand them nor even care. It is not on lost on me the number of times I have seen the news or sources of social media highlight the life, “sacrifice” and sometimes even death of popular people that are the same age as the soldiers that deploy and face combat in various ways. After my third deployment and three years before my fourth, I heard on the news that a young famous pitcher for professional baseball team who was only 19 years old died in a car accident. All the news agencies spent an incredible amount of time covering this story. Granted it is tragic and I distinctly remember praying for the young man’s family by name standing in my living room in a Class A uniform. However, the frustrating part was not all the coverage surrounding the tragedy but was the fact that I was stationed in Germany and leaving in a few minutes to deliver a death notification to an unknowing 20 year old wife. Her husband had been killed in Afghanistan and it was my job to go with the notification team and be present to share in the condolences as well as perform or provide any religious needs she may have. Her husband did not received the same level of notoriety, no such news coverage, no fuss over his sacrifice and no interview of his parents stateside or his wife.

You see, war became too graphic for our media sources around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The initial response to Pearl Harbor that lasted for just over 4 years within larger American society was our nation responding to the war with everyone going to war: men, women, and children. Now they did not serve in the ways we do today but it was common to see women and children working by building machinery for the war while the men were doing the fighting. The national trauma that ensued after the two atomic bombs were dropped threw America into something like a PTSD response. The effect was like that which we see in people who have experienced secondary trauma or caregiver trauma. The loss of life was staggering on all sides of the war and news was delivered primarily by newspaper, radio, churches and a few black and white televisions. 1945, was the last time American society as a whole went to war. On the heels of WWII, Korea kicked off. Avid historians know that the nickname for the Korean War is the “forgotten war”. Why? America had still not recovered from the news, images, memories, and the level of loss from WWII.

soldiers-prayingWe started to self medicate in the 1960s. Oh and incidentally, the larger societal patterns we see developing here are the same ones our soldiers still experience today. Slowly, soldiers became less and less understood and America became comfortable with the idea of letting soldiers go to war and come back as long as we did not cover the wars in the way we did in Vietnam. Society let the world know, we don’t want to know what is happening outside the United States when it comes to war as long as we can live free in the midst of it all. When this type of knowledge vacuum occurs, understanding goes by the wayside .

Technology has not helped us as soldiers be understood and neither has military dominance or strategy. We demonstrated all of those in Desert Storm and American society is none the wiser. Arriving at the present day, we see why the response was what it was for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. It makes perfect sense then when terrorist attack our homeland, our freedom and our sovereignty, that larger society would spend several weeks filling churches, looking for answers, worrying over what could be next and to support our soldiers in the war effort. However, the media coverage was short lived as well and once again the nation did not go to war. I am not writing to advocate for larger scale national war efforts. I am writing to connect with the lack of understanding a high percentage of our soldiers and their families feel. I am asking on behalf of my fellow veterans that we re-look as a nation what it means to support our soldiers through the entire war process and recovery if ever war is waged again. We need not wait until then. We can begin to practice understanding now. That said, to do so may take an act of God.

For years now, I have prayed and believed that if revival was going to take place again in America, that it was going to begin in the Military. It is not mankind that determines where the Spirit of God is poured out, it is God! When revival in America has happened, it ushered in lasting times of understanding and entire cities focused on placing God first. It may seem odd for me to introduce this paragraph here when discussing being understood as soldiers during war but it need not. Theologians will teach that God is all knowing, all loving and everywhere present. I agree with these characteristics of God. I do feel as though we sell God short when we leave out the fact that He is all understanding. You see true peace can be experienced.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

soldier-praying-e1333865018265Furthermore, I am convinced that no one person knows and understands soldiers better than God. “The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name.” (Exodus 15:3) So, even though society at large may never fully understand soldiers and their families, God certainly does and there is nothing greater than a soldier recognizing his place and status with God. A soldier knows how to respond to God’s call with what scripture calls a “broken and contrite heart”.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17

Soldiers and their families are not despised by God. They are understood and offered true peace. This is our mission here at Veterans To Christ: Veterans bringing Veterans to Christ and Christ to Veterans. There is no greater level of understanding, this side of heaven!

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.