When I was a young boy, word reached us that a neighbour friend of our family was killed in the closing days of World War II. Of course, he was just one of fifty million people who lost their lives at that catastrophic time and so, the sadness prevailing in our little home was also experienced in countless homes around the world during the war years.
Before then, WWI raged and millions were killed at that time too. Since WW2 we had Korea, Viet Nam, the two Iraq conflicts, Afghanistan and numerous little wars around the globe in which western military forces have bravely fought and gave up tens of thousands of our youth. And how can any assessment fail to mention the hundreds of millions of people around the world who were maimed through these wars. I remember my Dad saying about our neighbour, “And for what?”
We can look back at the two world wars and see a fairly clear reason we fought, it was for freedom. Yet, isn’t it ironic that our defeated enemies of those wars are in far better financial shape than we are today. The reason isn’t so clear why we were involved in Korea and Viet Nam, particularly when we never really overcome in either case. In Iraq and Afghanistan we have become bogged down and after eight years, the early euphoria of victory has turned to desperation. We have just had the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan make it known that unless more soldiers are made available the risk of failure grows. He was quoted as saying, “The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves.” And the casualties continue to rise and more and more people are saying, “And for what?”
I remember reading an article by a Christian writer that seventy jubilees since the Exodus expired at the end of WW2 and at that time Israel ceased to be the battle axe of the Lord. That may well have been the case because our track record since has not been good. One wonders if this dismal record has gone hand in hand with True Israel entering into so many agreements with heathen nations in contravention of what our Lord counselled. Certainly, the hoped for peace has been elusive! Someone once wrote, “Why is this so? Because the answer to world peace is in Jesus Christ, the coming world ruler, and there is no other peace on earth possible apart from Him. The world still says: We will not have this man to reign over us. Yet without Him peace is impossible. Jesus says: ‘My Peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. In the world ye shall have tribulation.’” We must remember that it will be through this tribulation that the new and better world order will emerge.”
Much is going to happen in the next few years as the thirst for power brings nation against nation and kingdom again kingdom. Jesus told us this will happen and it won’t be stopped, except by Him. We will inevitably hear phrases like “Peace and Safety” but this will just be a prelude to Paul’s warning, “When they shall say Peace, Peace” it won’t happen. Instead, sudden destruction is to come upon nations as travail upon a woman in childbirth.” And to the evil ones, the Bible says, “They shall not escape.”
In the meantime, many more of our brave military people will join the heroes of the past and on November 11th of each year we will pray especially hard and ask our loving Lord God Almighty to keep them in His Care. Poems like John McRae’s “In Flander’s Field” or the poem on the front cover by Laurence Binyon will remind us of their sacrifice. But, this year, as we stand at Memory’s Shrine, let us pray that the pain brought to so many families who lose loved ones or witness the physical and mental anguish of those who return will soon give way to the glorious promise of the Lord to all of us if we realize we can’t do it by ourselves and seek Him out, “Come and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2) For those first time readers, to the Lord, a day is a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8) so the two days since the First Advent of Christ have now passed and we eagerly await the “raising up”.
A few years after World War 2 G.F. Johnson of Portland, Oregon wrote a poem [from which I took the title of this editorial] which he called “Renewing Faith at Memory’s Shrine” and while it is too lengthy for this article, I think the first two stanza’s reflect the deep emotion and thanks we feel for those who fought, died or were maimed in serving their nations.
The years are swiftly passing by
Since all the world was called
The cause for which the
Has been forgotten or ignored
The dead who pledged they would not sleep
Tho poppies blow in Flanders’ fields
Are joined by those whose faith
By holding high the Torch of Truth
Rest ye in peace ye noble hearts
In graves afar in foreign parts.
We shall not forget the part you played
Nor yet the sacrifice you made
Your blood has hallowed every land
Where soldiers’ blood has stained its sand
Your Master too laid down
To save us from eternal strife