Drawing Strength From Others

Sunday, November 11, 2018
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Listen while you read: "O God Our Help In Ages Past"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 13:1-4 – How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, "I have prevailed"; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. (NRSV)

Having a strong interest in the First World War, I've read a great number of books on the subject, some written by historians and others being first-hand accounts. Of the two, I like the soldiers' stories the best, as they are written from the personal experiences of the people who were actually there at the time. What strikes me most in their accounts is the appalling conditions under which they lived. When they did their time serving in the front-line trenches, they were constantly covered in mud and filth while being infested with lice and fleas. Running all about them were rats, feasting on the bodies of those who had been killed but could not be buried because of the danger of enemy fire. The soldiers endured all this while facing imminent death, either by sniper fire or by the shells which rained down on them on a regular basis.

Life behind the front line was only marginally better. Frequently, their billets were in the basement of a bombed-out building where close contact with their comrades in arms meant hygiene was poor and illness was common. Lacking the lifesaving drugs that we take for granted today, death from the most mundane ailments was common.

Due to the logistics, they could not even take comfort in a good meal. With constant bombardment and poor transportation, food supplies were always limited. Much of the time, the men existed on a diet of canned meat and hardtack. A hot meal was the exception rather than the rule.

So, there they were, living in a strange country, surrounded by strangers, existing in squalid conditions, hungry, wet, and cold, and with the spectre of sudden death constantly hanging over them.

Yet, they carried on with a force of resilience that has to be admired. They obeyed orders, did their duty, and subjected themselves to constant danger. In their letters home, the unwritten rule of the trenches was "Never whimper, never complain." No one wished to upset their loved ones so far away.

As we go through difficult times or troubles, I frequently reflect on those poor soldiers who fought and died a century ago. The trials that I face can in no way compare with theirs. At the end of the day, I can still look forward to a hot meal, a warm bed, and the loving support of family and friends.

Reflecting on the endurance of these others gives me strength to carry on. When downtrodden, we need to keep the faith and pray for God's guidance. Let's look around, as there is always someone willing to lend a helping hand or ear. In addition, God gave us His only Son, Jesus, and with Him, love and hope here on earth and afterwards in heaven. Good times will come again.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, during our times of trouble, help us not to focus on ourselves but rather to remember the strength of others. Remind us that our time here on earth is short and that these problems will soon pass away. As we reflect on the perseverance of those who came before us, may we realize that we, too, have the strength to carry on. May we reach out to others when we need help, and help those in need when they need us. Your love endures forever! Amen.

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About the author:

John Reeves <jxreeves@msn.com>
Coalburn, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Most wonderful! Blessings.

    Thanks, Martin. I certainly enjoy your writing.

    Thank you, John for a much-appreciated devotion.

    Thank you, John. Just the right message for today.

    Amen John, thanks for a good word of encouragement.

    Thank you, John for today’s devotional, I appreciated it very much.

    Great devotion, John. Thanks for the memories and the application.

    Thank you, John. We are blessed and their sacrifice made a difference.

    Thank you, Mr. Reeves, for sharing this thought provoking devotional with us. Blessings.

    What appropriate thoughts to share today, as we Remember them.
    We are so blessed here in Canada.

    Thank you, John for such a thoughtful reminder of His eternal presence in our lives – providing comfort and inspiration no matter the circumstance when we turn to Him.

    Greetings John,
    Many thanks for your very meaningful devotional today. A good reminder of remembering the sacrifices of others especially today being Remembrance day.

    Thank you for your reflections on Veterans Day, and we need to be more thankful for those who have made such sacrifices for our freedom. I was deferred for gospel ministry during the end of the Korean War but was able to serve as a Contract Chaplain at our Veteran’s Hospital from 1990-98. I heard several stories and prayed with many vets over those years. Blessings.

    Thank you, John, for this thought-provoking devotion today. Yes, we constantly need reminding of the price that was paid for the freedom we enjoy today in this lovely Canada. (Not forgetting also, the price that was paid for us on the Cross.)
    Blessings on your day today.

    Dear John Reeves,
    Thank you for your devotional reminding us that God gave us His only Son, Jesus, and with Him, love and hope here on earth and afterwards in heaven. Good times will come again.
    May the knowledge of the love of God and of salvation in Him and the resultant peace on earth prevail and increase day by day.

    Hi John:
    Thank you for this beautifully written devotional. It is inspiring.
    When I go through rough patches, I always say it is nothing compared to what Jesus went through. Those soldiers suffered extreme hardship as well. Thank the Lord He gave them the strength to carry on.
    God bless you John. Please continue writing.

    Dear John,
    Thank you for your timely devotional.
    I had to speak at a Remembrance Day service at the home where I live. There were about 100 residents in attendance. I referenced your devotional and read your prayer at the end of my talk. It was well received.
    Thanks for your assistance.

    Well written and thank you John!
    Although I never met my maternal grandfather, he too, fought in World War 1, and came home a very, changed man, having been exposed to mustard gas and other atrocities, according to my mother. Today, he would receive help for his PTSD.
    Unfortunately, the day came when he decided his wife children would be better off without him, and he chose to end his black moods and his life. Yet, my aunt just shared that her father never came back from town without a lollipop for each of his kids. If only Grandpa could have leaned on others for help.
    Thank you for sharing your story and message of war as it really was.
    Lest we forget!

    Hello John,
    Thanks so much for this thoughtful reflection.
    It has been one month since Hurricane Michael ravaged our home. While we have damage to our first floor, our primary living space was not damaged. So many homes around us are sad, tattered shells of what they were. Our county has been blessed with an influx of volunteers from many non-profit organizations.
    As in your reflection, we have learned to appreciate a hot meal, after being weeks without the ability to cook. We have also grown in our appreciation of the people who are helping and encouraging each other.
    Blessings on your day!

    It was a very nice story of a how the soldiers lived and died for our freedom. Thanks.
    (New Brunswick)


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