This quarter, we focus on healing in our weekly devotional series. This week's devotional comes from Luke 13 through 19.
Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day of remembrance for those who have given their lives in service to our country. As a Foursquare chaplain serving in the United States Air Force, I am reminded on a daily basis of the need to remember our warfighters and also the need to expect God’s healing touch in all of our lives.
Most people are unaware of the true cost of being an American warfighter. Since 9/11, the U.S. has been fighting a long and costly war on terrorism. According to The New York Times, in the past 11 years, over 107,000 U.S. military warfighters have been deployed three or more times. The U.S. Department of Defense describes the specific cost:
- More than 6,000 troops and 2,300 contractors gave died.
- Over 550,000 disability claims have been registered with the Veteran’s Affairs office.
- Nearly 70,000 troops have been wounded.
- A RAND study shows 26 percent of returning troops have some kind of mental health condition.
- Toxic dust exposure in the war zone has been associated with high rates of respiratory, neurological and cardiovascular disease in returning troops.
Being a U.S. warfighter and a disciple of Christ require comparable sacrifices. Further, expecting God to heal our bodies requires unhindered faith in His Word. We must be willing to follow Jesus fully and become His disciples.
The question we must answer is: Is God’s wholeness worth the cost of discipleship?
In Luke 14:25-33, a large crowd followed Jesus, but they were oblivious to the sacrifice of being His disciple. Jesus instructed His followers to be ready and willing to do the exact things we are asking our warfighters to do. He commanded them to do two things:
First, Jesus told His disciples that they must be willing to love Him more than their immediate family and their own lives, or they could not be His disciple (see Luke 14:26). Leaving families behind and surrendering our lives to serve in His army demonstrate this love.
Our military warfighters have missed the births of their children, multiple wedding anniversaries and funerals of loved ones; some have sacrificed their own lives to meet the high demands of deployment. The patriotism of over 2.8 million American warfighters reflects this kind of love.
Then, Jesus told His disciples to be willing to carry a cross, or they would be unfit to be His disciples (see Luke 14:27). He made it clear that being His disciple would demand complete submission to Him. In the culture of the day, Roman law required convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to an execution site simply to demonstrate complete submission to Rome.
Jesus was demanding that same submission and sacrifice. Our military warfighters carry their crosses by working through the mental wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), working in a career with a devastatingly high divorce rate, and much more.
U.S. warfighters embrace two principles of Christian discipleship, and all of us who follow Christ should take note of these, especially if we expect God to heal. A disciple must be willing to love his or her commitment to the commander more than his or her family and life. Warfighters for Christ must be willing to carry their own cross, showing complete submission to the commander, Jesus Christ.
Following Christ and having an expectation of God’s healing go hand in hand. The physical, emotional, spiritual and relational wounds of war in all of our lives can be healed in Jesus’ name because, as it says in Luke 18:27, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (NKJV).
By: Chaplain, Lt. Col. Warren “Chappy” Watties, United States Air Force, Foursquare Air Force Chaplains Coordinator
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