Increasingly Grateful

Tomorrow is the day our country has set aside to remember and honor our brave soldiers who have given their lives to protect our land and our freedom.  Originally Declaration Day began as a day to honor those who died in the civil war.  Since then, it has become known as Memorial Day and has been expanded to include remembering all of the nearly one million men and women who have died in America’s Armed Forces.
According to some basic internet research, America has been involved in 12 wars.  In each case we have asked the young men and women of our nation to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause of freedom, both for us and for others in foreign lands.  The sacrifices made by these men and women can never be totally comprehended, nor can they be repaid.
Like many things in America, I admit I often take the sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families for granted.  I am not thankful enough for their willingness to leave their jobs, their families, and the safety of their communities in order to serve the country they love.  I should show greater appreciation for their willingness to forfeit or postpone establishing a place called home as they move from base to base.  I should live with greater humility considering the thousands upon thousands who have been physically, emotionally, or mentally disabled so that we might live safely in a land of freedom.
When reflecting on my lack of gratitude for the sacrifice our military men and women have paid, I am also convicted of my complacency when it comes to showing thanksgiving to those who are martyred daily on behalf of Christianity.  While it seems impossible to come up with a concrete number of those who are killed every year, thousands of Christians every year could be placed in the Hebrews Hall of Faith.  I recently read that more Christians have been martyred in the past century than in the previous nineteen.
Which then of course leads me to reflect on my level of gratitude for the One who paid the greatest price for freedom that could ever be paid.  Do I truly live a life of gratitude in response to Jesus’ willingness to pay my sin debt so that I could be free for all of eternity?
On this Memorial weekend, let us remember the brave soldiers who have so unselfishly given of themselves.  Thank you so much!  Let us be mindful of their loved ones left behind through acts of love and encouragement.  And let us be grateful for God’s hand of protection and blessing on America.
But also, let us remember those who have given their lives for the sake of the advancement of God’s kingdom.  And especially, let us take some time to reflect on God’s amazing grace and love that he would send his one and only son to die for us while we were still rebelling against him.
And then out of appreciation for this gift of love and selflessness, let us give ourselves to obeying the perfect command of Christ… “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you.  This is the very best way to love.  Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you.” (John 15:12-14)
Increasingly grateful,    Mike

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