Memorial Day exists to remember those who died in military service. It is good and right to remember the sacrifices made, and their impact on society as well as individual families.
I think it is also appropriate to recognize all those who are disabled because of their service, a number many times greater than those who die in combat.
The Department of Defense has reported slightly more than 4,400 military deaths in Iraq as of May 28. Numbers of those disabled in this war are harder to come by. But as of 2008, about 181,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were receiving disability benefits from the Federal government.
When disability comes, often suddenly and violently, on mostly healthy young men, the response can be one of intense questioning of the goodness and sovereignty of God.
Yet, God’s word demonstrates both his sovereign intentionality in our lives and the opportunity for hope, no matter the situation:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
Nothing ever has or ever will catch God by surprise in our individual lives and circumstances:
In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16
And no situation that results in disability, whether from a genetic anomaly, a sickness or disease, an accident or an act of war, has the final word on the glorious reality that awaits those who are trusting in Jesus:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So, thank you to all veterans and those currently in active military service. May Christ’s church welcome you gladly, helping you see the glorious goodness of God in all circumstances. Especially those of you living with disability because of your service.