In honor of those who have served in the armed forces, many across the world pay their respects on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day, also known as Veterans Day in the United States.
Along with stories of bravery and successful deployments are the stories shared of veterans struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. I am heartened to hear of new programs to strengthen the well-being of our troops and have wanted to embrace and support our veterans in prayer.
In wanting to pray in support of those who have served, I was inspired to look to a great biblical warrior, David.
David is probably best known for his defeat of the giant, Goliath (see I Samuel 17:38-58). This great warrior was a humble poet and the author of some of the best-loved psalms. He used these poems or hymns to share his understanding of God’s love and care for all mankind and in every situation. We see him turning to this divine Love to restore his sense of hope and well-being in times of deep distress and fear.
One of my favorite psalms talks of God’s love supporting and sustaining us even when “mountains shake” and “waters ... roar” (Psalm 46). The imagery conjures up being in a very menacing situation. But “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” promises the same psalm. And David proved this throughout the adventures of his life as he rose from shepherd boy to king.
God’s unconditional love for His creation was also the foundation of the healing work of Christ Jesus. He understood God, good, to be the creator of all and the source of infinite Love. Jesus expressed this divine Love by healing mental as well as physical illness. Throughout the New Testament are often repeated reminders to us that “God is love” (see for example, I John 4:8 and I John 4:16).
I’ve found that understanding the power of divine Love can overturn fearful memories we face. While I have never faced the trauma of the battlefield, learning more about this true sense of love and calm trust in God’s goodness has helped me in troubling circumstances, and this points to God’s ability to care for us in all circumstances – no matter how large or small.
As one example, an understanding of God’s love was the answer for me when I faced painful recurring memories about the business my family had had for generations, which had been closed up by the bank. This came as a shock to my family and left me feeling lost and deeply anxious over the ensuing months.
As a Christian Scientist, I turned to the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to learn more of God’s love and provision for me. Echoing the Psalmist, she writes: “In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.’ Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 12-13).
In my study over the months, I had to take a stand to insist prayerfully that God was ever present as the source of goodness in my life and that His love could never be taken away from me or any of God’s creation. My growing confidence in this unchanging, ever-present Love dissolved depression and reshaped my thinking from hopelessness to an expectation of goodness in my life. And as those painful memories faded, a new job opportunity followed.
This humble example showed me that the heartfelt prayer that reaches out to God, infinite Love, can lift us out of the troubled waters of fear or confusion. The law of divine Love is supreme, and it can overturn all that is unlike God. We can pray to know our veterans are supported by this same all-powerful Love – at home and abroad.
The Apostle Paul’s promise still speaks to us: “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.... No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39, New Living Translation).
As reflections of God, good, we can each bear witness to our true selfhood as God’s likeness – ever loved, cared for, and protected.