The Burdens of War and Redemption Through Christ

sgt_cole_reece War is primal and it is visceral. It pits man vs man in mortal conflict and it is generally the most memorable event of anyone’s life for those who lived through one. The problems start when those months or years of horror and suffering begin to define us. For most veterans, the men and women we were while deployed are not the men and women we want to be at home. The truth is that if the war defines us then violence and rage replaces what God wants us to be. At the end of the day God has commanded us to transition from men of war to men of love.

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:37-39

There is rarely a day that goes by when I don’t think about certain instances or moments during my deployment. I consider the things that I should have done or the things that I would have done had I known what would have happened as a result of inaction. I remember acting out with violence when it was not warranted and standing by when it was. That is the problem with war, at the end of it when you are home, all you have left are the memories and the decisions that you made. With these memories come regrets and the questioning of whether your actions were right or wrong. It’s this regret that can burrow into our hearts and into our souls leaving us questioning life itself. The reality is that war comes with consequences that most civilians can’t even begin to comprehend. When an inch means the difference between life and death everything is a matter of life and death. We as mortal men and women are incapable of reconciling the violence that we committed or was committed against us and our friends. Luckily for us, God gave us a savior. God sent down to earth a perfect being made of himself to stand in our place and to take God’s righteous judgment for us. This is the eternal gift that Christ gave to us. Our salvation is not just an atonement for our sins but a reconciliation for our actions during the war.

PTSD But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

No matter how many people we’ve hurt or how many friends we’ve lost, the burden of our memories and of our time at war can be lifted off of our shoulders with a simple act of belief. The influx of suicides among veterans has a simple cause and one that is tragically oftentimes preventable. In many instances it is caused by men and women trying to rely on themselves to deal with the suffering that they are enduring. What they don’t realize is that when you have Jesus to pick up that burden and to help ease that suffering or at the very least give that suffering purpose everything becomes more bearable.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

Christ came to earth because God understood that the human condition by its very nature is intolerable. This is infinitely more so for the men and women who have experienced the worst that humans can do to one another. Though there are no atheists in foxholes I wish it was also true when we all return home. Only when we understand that God is for us and not against us and that our actions in the war do not define us, can we begin to live our lives in peace. Only with the letting go of our sins and the violence that we committed can we finally start letting go of that war and start living for today. We are not the men and women we were when we were asked to defend our nation. We are fathers and mothers, we are brothers and sisters, we are husbands and wives and we are sons and daughters. Though our nation called us at one time to be warriors, with the help of Christ we can again be the peaceful versions of ourselves.

Michael Davis
Senior Editor of Veterans to Christ. Served as a Cavalry Scout from 2005-2009. Iraq Veteran.