With Veteran’s Day and Luke’s Facebook posting of some old Marine Corp Birthday Ball photos, I am reminded of Luke’s service in the military and a very long 9 month deployment to Iraq early in our marriage. Although the memory of those days crosses my mind less often now, I cherish the times they do. There is a sweetness in recalling how close the Lord was to us during that time and how faithfully He cared for us in what was perhaps the greatest hardship we have yet walked together.
When Luke first left, I had a relentless aching in my stomach—“sick with worry” as some would say. My mind frequently wandered to the questions of, “Where is he now? Is he safe? What if something bad happens? What if he doesn’t make it home?” I wanted to have more control of the situation and to have the assurance he would be okay. But, I quickly realized I had absolutely no control over what might happen to my husband—the environment, the people, the places, the situations, the potential man-made securities, and the lack there of were all out of my hands. This was difficult for me and plagued me daily with the burden of worry.
One day, Luke sent me the words to Psalm 91, which we decided to memorize and pray through regularly throughout his deployment. The first verses, especially, were of great comfort: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” Although still prone to worry, God used this truth to loosen my grip on my fears, to give my worry to Him, to remember the Lord is both Luke’s and my one true refuge and protection. Most of all, it helped me to stop trusting in myself or in man but to trust the only One who actually has the power to control what happens. I had to learn to release Luke to the One who “holds the whole world in His hands.” And, I had to rest in the shelter of the promise that nothing would happen to him outside of God’s good and perfect plan. There was no assurance (and still is no assurance) that Luke will be safe from harm or come home at the end of the day, but there is a blessed assurance that no matter what happens—in life, suffering, or death—the Lord is in control, He loves us, and His plan is good.
Despite life threatening battle engagements and one incident in particular that left three of his friends badly wounded and Luke in the direct line of fire as he came to their aid, the Lord chose to bring these men home. We are thankful for this but also know there are several stories with different endings. We are uncertain of God’s purposes in war—why some soldiers come home, some don’t, some come home altered for the good, and some seemingly for the worse. But, we are certain of this, that “God works all things (even war, pain, suffering, and death) together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28). We praise God for protecting Luke so he could come to the aid of his friends. We praise God for the ways He has worked through that event to profoundly and positively alter the lives of those men—drawing them back to the Lord and to a deep trust in His good purposes, despite the suffering they have endured.
To all those men and women who have served and to their families who have also sacrificed, we thank you and pray you find refuge in the Lord. May He be your fortress in whatever joys or sorrows life brings, and may He be the God in whom you trust! “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
By Katie Miller
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