Spiritual Healing For Our Wounded Warriors
There’s a large group of people returning from our foreign wars who aren’t doing so well.
They have seen horrific sights. They have experienced shocking terrors. They have lost comrades and close buddies.
They have been targeted by ever advanced weapons and done all the above for causes that aren’t so terribly righteous after all.
They are our combat veterans.
And some, especially those who returned from Vietnam, were berated, belittled, and shamed in publicly cruel ways upon their return.
Many of them have PTSD, what used to be called battle fatigue or shell shock. Many have lost limbs.
Many have fallen into depression, addiction, and isolationism. Suicide rates are epidemic in their ranks.
Many of them are finding it almost impossible to adjust to the calm, regular routines of ordinary life.
They are yet another lost generation.
Instead of profiting from all of our hard won experience from returning Vietnam vets, they experience huge delays, substandard and pokey treatment, demeaning attitudes, and infuriating bureaucracy when they deal with the VA.
They find this monolithic citadel of government incompetence, this center of dehumanizing institutionalism, full of callous and petty policies that do more harm than good.
And, no, the bureaucrats have learned nothing in forty years.
We give them parades and ceremonies when they return, and forget them when the parade is over.
So our combat veterans often carry a rage that explodes most onto the people they love, destroying their marriages and families and also ruining their job prospects in civilian life.
What they need is a spiritual healing that planet earth cannot provide.
They need a Savior who has experienced nightmarish terror at the hands of the worst of enemies, who has experienced a horrific level of violence in His own person, and who therefore understands and intuitively knows what they need most.
They need a Savior who sorrows over the casualties and the destruction, who has plunged into the bottomless ocean of mourning and woe.
And touched bottom.
They need a Savior who is the Ultimate Veteran in the Ultimate War.
They need a Savior who can therefore lift the ‘bigger than them’ horrors, terrors, and sorrows off of their small shoulders, and who gives a ‘bigger than them’ peace, serenity, and love in its place.
They need Someone who can take over the management of their broken, ruined, tragic lives, and bring beauty of of ashes under His management.
They need Someone to provide a wild, terrible love in those very places they feel most out of control and fear causing the most damage to themselves and others.
They need a Savior who can save them from themselves, from their self-destructive urges and their death wishes. One who can keep them alive and forgive their towering guilt over the atrocities and cruelties of war.
Our part, as helpers, friends and family, is thankfully small.
All we can do, and all we need to do, is to keep escorting our wounded warriors to the Ultimate Veteran.
We gently help them see their own horrors in the ultimate horrors of the cross. We gently help them explore and expand the parallels between Christ’s wartime experience and their own.
We gently help them hear a Voice offering to bear the unbearable and love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable.
We encourage them to surrender themselves into the Care of Another, and to renounce the unspoken mandate that they either can or need to handle it all.
The Way of Trust
Entrusting is a vital form of trust, and for too long they have been trusting only themselves to be it all, bear it all, handle it all, and manage it all–which is cruel and impossible.
Until we trust Christ with “me”, we aren’t really trusting Him at all and there is little flow of life-giving grace in return. But the rivers of life flow when we do!
Having entrusted Him with ourselves, we trust Him to bear what only He can bear and provide what only He can provide. We trust Him for all this–the taking away and the giving out.
And wonderfully, gloriously, He responds with a grace that is greater than our worst wounds!
Then we are truly free of the tormenting demons of past horrors, and free to really begin our lifelong journey of healing.
And, as a pastor, this is what I would wish for every wounded warrior on this Veteran’s Day!