A friend introduced me to this blog, How Can They Hear, written by Cody Whittaker, a missionary in Haiti. Cody and his wife have scene horrors of many kinds in the last many years: the shattering earthquake I watched from afar, but also a private grief of their own, as their four-year-old daughter died from cancer.
He wrote these words today, and they spoke my very heart.
The Fallen Comrade
Two men, who have grown up together as best friends, enlisted in the war together, stood together taking the pledge to serve their country at all costs, are now in the same fighting unit moving from bunker to bunker taking back enemy territory. As they move towards another bunker, amidst heavy fire, one of them is hit…and it appears to be fatal.
They reach the bunker, where the other friend is only able to hold his friend in his arms and comfort him as he dies. And that is exactly what happens. The friend that was hit says his last few words, “Don’t you worry buddy, we’re gonna win this war”, and then he dies.
The friend who is still living has but only a moment to hold his comrade’s fallen body, to weep, to scream, to cry out, but then he must let him go and move on. He must remember that he is still in a war. He must not forget that, though his comrade reached the furthest bunker that he would reach in taking back enemy territory, that he himself still had more bunkers to reach and more territory to capture. He must not forget about the pledge that he made to his country, a pledge to serve his country above ALL ELSE.
And so, he has a choice to make in that moment while in that bunker. If he stays there lamenting too long over his comrade and best friend, he will render himself ineffective in the fight. Other comrades will eventually suffer. He himself will be put in danger by remaining there because eventually the enemy will reach that bunker and overtake him. And most importantly, if he chooses to stay there in that bunker with his friend who is no longer living, rather than continue in the fight, he will be breaking the pledge that he made with his friend as they swore an oath that they would give their very all for their country.
And so, in that bunker, in those few moments, there is agony of soul that the man has never known. He doesn’t want to leave. He feels like leaving would be abandoning his best friend. But he knows that his best friend really would not be abandoned because his best friend is no longer living. But, nonetheless, he still feels that way. He hurts. He hurts more than ever. He can’t bear the thought of moving to the next bunker without his best friend there beside him. They fought together from the very beginning. And now he would have to go alone in the continuation of his fight. Sure, there are other comrades in his troop, but to him, he would feel all alone. In that moment, he feels lost. He wonders if there is really a reason for him to go on and continue fighting after he has just lost a person that meant the world to him. But deep down inside, he knows that there is still a greater purpose.
He wrestles. All within less than sixty seconds, he wrestles and agonizes. There is enemy fire still around him. The rest of the troop is saying that they need to advance to the next bunker. The war is not over. So, with great fear, yet also a strength and resolve that is beyond him, he lays his fallen friend down, picks up his rifle, and charges on. He has tears while charging, tears of both a great sadness in his heart, but also of a firm belief in the last words of his best friend. And he charges ahead saying to himself, and also to his fallen comrade who he can no longer see, “Don’t you worry buddy, we’re gonna win this war.”
And that’s my story these days. Oh how I sometimes want to stay in my lament over losing Susana. Sometimes, I don’t want to leave the bunker. The thought of going on without her scares me. But I know that there is still a battle that we are engaged in. And I, as the troop leader of my family, have other comrades that need me to lead them. I need God’s strength to do it. And God’s strength is exactly what I get. Sometimes, the thought of leaving the bunker with her behind causes me to feel like I am abandoning her. But when I feel that way, God’s grace and truth remind me of where she is. She is in the presence of the living God. She is in the best hands ever. She is not being abandoned. She is being embraced and loved more so than she ever has. But these are feelings that I am forced to wrestle with from day to day.
And so, amidst tears, both tears of sadness over missing my precious comrade as well as tears born from a great conviction of knowing the truth about our final destiny, I pick up my weapon, and I leave the bunker. I know that Susana is not left behind in that bunker. That bunker was simply her last place that she advanced to here on this earth. But she was raised from that earthly bunker and now is living at the never ending victory party. But I have more bunkers to advance to while I am here. I have made a pledge, by His grace that called me, to press on and worship Him all of my days and to share this incredible message of hope and truth with the world. And so, with tears, and with a faith that is not my own, I press on.
Don’t mistake me here. I weep still. I think about Susana every single day. My heart has pain. But, I am not crippled by any of those things. Those things, by His grace, have not rendered me ineffective. On the contrary, those things have given me a greater clarity of purpose to continue to press on. I want to run my race with a greater perseverance, for I know the incredible prize that awaits those who finish hard. And I know that my daughter is waiting for me at the finish line. I want to fight with a greater tenacity, for I know the plans of the enemy to kill and destroy. And I am more mad at sin than I have ever been because through sin this world became cursed with all kinds of pain, suffering, and disease. But I also know the vengeance that God will take upon my greatest enemy. And so I fight with a tenacity knowing that the day will certainly come when my enemy is completely defeated. And I know that the enemy wants me to be rendered ineffective by remaining too long in the bunker. I have heard of many stories personally of those who did get stuck in the bunker for too long. And they lost years. But I hear the voice of my Commander-in-Chief saying, “Press on.”