“ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Last Sunday, my husband and I had the privilege to attend the Ft. Bragg Chaplain Corp picnic, celebrating 244 years of chaplains attending to the needs of those in uniform and their families. The event was held at Rick’s Place, a military non-profit that has 50 wide open acres with fun activities to connect and strengthen the military family. I believe the opportunity to invite these chaplains and their families to Rick’s Place was set in motion by the Lord after I walked through a very devastating event alongside my third daughter and her active duty husband. This tragic event drove me to my knees for the hearts of all involved, and I believe made me more sensitive to listen for the Lord’s leading. One of the things I felt led to do was to pursue the Garrison Chaplain and share about Rick’s Place as a place of refuge and peace for our military families. How appropriate that God would open the door for these chaplains and their families, who are the ones called upon to help minister to those hurting in the most tragic of situations. The Lord worked out the details so they could come to Rick’s Place for their annual picnic. I wanted to introduce them to the property and have them experience it for themselves so they could then share it with those they support.
Life experiences have taught me that the most powerful lessons of faith often happen in the midst of times of pain, suffering, and uncertainty. Our hearts are changed forever during these times in our lives, whether we are directly affected or know of the painful circumstances in someone else’s life. This is exactly what happened to my daughter as she received the news that her husband had lost a soldier in a training accident in late spring. She grew up as the daughter of a soldier and still this news was devastating to her heart. She wasn’t expecting it, and nothing can prepare you for loss of life. It was over the next several weeks my daughter became my hero. She embraced the call on her life to come alongside the family impacted, and she asked God daily for His strength to serve them and love them well, even as her own heart was broken and hurting. I encouraged my daughter to trust God for all she needed as He had perfectly placed her in this time and place to be available to help. Accepting His plan for her life to be chosen to walk with this family through their grief and pain and to support her soldier who was also hurting.
Today I want to honor all those who have accepted the call to walk with those during times of tragedy. Especially those in the military community where loss of life is always a possibility. I want to say thank you to our military chaplains and their families who carry the daily responsibility to minister to so many. I also want to acknowledge the military spouse, willing to answer the call to minister to those who have just experienced a life changing event. A widow and family, now suffering and in need of someone to say, “Yes, Lord I am willing to go with a heart of compassion, realizing it could have been my family forever changed.” The military spouse, accepting the responsibility and recognizing God had chosen them for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) My heart has been forever changed watching my own daughter over the last few months, trusting the Lord moment by moment, acknowledging the pain and anger of her dear friend who is suffering from the loss of her soldier and choosing to continue to make herself available with open arms and an open heart.
May this be an encouragement to all of us to be ready and willing to do whatever God asks of us in service to those whose life has been forever changed by the devastating loss of someone they love. May we be courageous and walk beside them through their grief and times of hopelessness as we acknowledge their loss and the reality that their lives will never be the same.