All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. Psalm 25:10
My book, Faith Steps for Military Families is about spiritual readiness–incorporating one’s faith in preparing for adversity or living under difficult circumstances and includes how well a military family can bounce back. As a retired military wife and now a Blue Star Mother (mothers who have children serving in the armed forces. See www.bluestarmothers.org ), it’s hard to see our grown children who serve our country go through difficult trials.
Our daughter, Megan’s, biggest challenge began in the summer of 2007, between her high school graduation and departing for college at Washington State University in Pullman that fall. She had worked hard and done everything right when she secured a spot in the college’s Army’s ROTC program. Excited, she was ready for her upcoming college experiences and the ROTC program. But all her grand plans were nearly extinguished with a cancer diagnoses. Earlier, I insisted she get her booster tetanus shot. While in that office visit, the doctor detected a large mass on her throat. A tissue biopsy later came back positive for cancer. The timing of this diagnosis couldn’t of come at the worst time–on the very day we were leaving to move her to the college.
After many phone calls to doctors and faxing medical records to the medical clinic in the small college town, Megan was confident she could mend herself after surgery in order to stay in college, but her standing and participation in the ROTC program was hanging in the balance. Not wanting to give up on college, we supported her decision to have surgery and radiation treatment in Pullman, while attending college. As expected, the ROTC program abruptly ended for her. Understandably disappointed, we encouraged her to focus on her health. From home, we monitored her progress and recovery. As expected, the mental and physical demands of college became challenging and her grades suffered, but she was determined to stick it out and overcome this setback.
Daily, I prayed for God to provide her with the strength and will to keep strong and not to give up. Surgery to remove the cancer was successful. It was additional good news that the cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes. Radiation was the next step of her treatment. Afterwards, she began working with doctors on her physical health, getting it dialed in with new medication she’d be on for the rest of her life. With the cancer behind her, getting her grades up and seeking to be restated back into the ROTC program became her new focus. She would have to work harder than even the first time around because her health had been compromised by the cancer. It would prove to be her hardest challenge yet. Her grades weren’t stellar, but in time they improved as did her health.
Four years later, she graduated with a 3.32 gpa and received her criminal justice degree. As parents, watching our determined daughter complete the grueling ROTC program on time, long with her fellow cadets, and be commissioned an Army officer was truly a blessing.
My son, Lawrence, will have a different challenge come this fall when he departs for Navy boot camp. He will be a submariner – a first in our family. After boot camp, there’s sub school, then from there to “A” school for training in his rating. As parents, we know he will have some big challenges of his own as he completes each phase. Again, his father and I will be on the front lines as prayer warriors.
Prayer is the Supportive Key
It’s hard to see our young military children go through difficult trials. What it boils down to is that they need to acknowledge there will be challenges in life; some may be life and death situations and some may be living under difficult circumstances. But a life of faith doesn’t always protect from experiencing certain tests and trials. However, having a faith in the Lord does give us a godly perspective regarding trials. God goes before us and meets us right there in the trouble and distress. There’s comfort in knowing that faith in Jesus is that special something for spiritual readiness. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Faith makes a difference because God is in the here and now. In those times, however, when we can’t understand the works of His hand, we must rely on His Word, and trust it.
It’s imperative that, as parents, we pray daily for our military children because we never really know when their skill set will be called upon by our commander-in-chief. Prayer changes things. Prayer affects circumstances. And the Holy Spirit provides discernment into those circumstances. This is so we can see these circumstances through the lens of a godly perspective. Prayer manifests God’s hand into their situation. If your military son or daughter is encountering a difficult season in his or her life, pray these prayer points.
1). They will recognize Jesus as their strong tower and choose to run to it for safety (Proverbs 18:10). Instead of relying solely on their own abilities, but that they will find their endurance and strength from Jesus.
2). Pray their heart will become sensitive to the Holy Spirit and follow in its leading.
3). Pray that he or she will discern, or glean what must be learned from the challenge, and,
4). Pray their faith would grow as a result of the trials in the complex military lifestyle.
There’s a human tendency to want to get the rough times over with in order to alleviate the associated discomfort, but encourage your beloved military member not to disregard the golden nugget–don’t overlook the work, the inner spiritual work of the Holy Spirit. God may be allowing this trial to move them along in their faith journey to discover His plan and purpose for their lives.