Love In the Fight
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 (ESV)
Let me preface this message clearly. I have never experienced combat. I don’t presume to know what it is like and I don’t want to falsely express the feelings, views, or thoughts of those who have experienced war personally. Still, I want to talk about the things I’ve noticed about war and the people who’ve fought it. And while I want to glorify some actions, I don’t want to broadly glorify war itself. That would be foolish I believe. However, I think it is wise to learn from the hardest things we have to experience in life. Even if we’re not the one’s who’ve experienced those things personally.
It’s been said over and over that war is hell. And the sentiment is absolutely true. It’s real life and real death sharing the same air and sometimes the same breath. It brings out the best and the worst in people. It makes friends and it builds enemies. At the same time that bonds are broken, some are also being made. It’s life made ultra serious and spectacularly real. Mistakes can mean death and decisions can give life in an instant. War is unimaginable.
War is filled with blood and guts and hate for sure. But what strikes me more than the hate is the love that can also be seen. Generations pass and still an old man will shed tears for a fallen friend left behind in battle. Stories of heroism can be told unending. Stories of people who gave their lives for their friends just feet away. Friends who are loved by many.
Lives matter. All of them. It’s one thing to pick up an unknown body. That’s hard enough. It’s another thing to see the pictures of his loved ones at home. People aren’t just people. They’re sons and daughters and wives and husbands. People are loved. And there’s something in us that recognizes that love and respects it; sometimes more than we respect the person. So for a man or woman to sacrifice themselves for another means that they aren’t just sacrificing themselves, they’re sacrificing a relationship of love too. Someone is going to mourn the loss of that veteran, and that causes us to mourn alongside; even if we never knew the deceased.
It seems odd to be talking about love and war mutually because we generally see them as exclusive. But war is one of those things that forges love. No matter the side, men and women carry out harrowing tasks because of love for one another. It’s often said that once the battle begins, you stop fighting for whatever it is that brought you to the fight and you start fighting for the person next to you. The fight in essence becomes an act of love.
While it’s good to honor our heroes and their valor, how do we translate that wartime love into our everyday lives. In 1968, U.S. Army C Company, 52d Infantry, entered the Vietnam War with 160 men. Of those original 160 just 31 returned home unhurt by the war. That’s not something that can be equated to a normal life of peace. Still there is something honorable in paying tribute. And maybe that’s all we can do. Many of those men who fought in Vietnam still hope they did some good. I believe they did. Not because the war was won and liberty prevailed. Not because Democracy was shown superior or our ideas deemed best. But because they chose to love in the fight. And that’s what we can do everyday. For many of us everyday includes a fight. Can we love in that fight? Because in reality, when the fight is on, that’s what love is all about. I pray that while we may hate the fight itself, we can learn to love in it.
Love in the fight,