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Memorial Hope

2338174943_9a086a5076_zThis past weekend US citizens did what people all over the world do to recognize those who have lived and died in the service of their country. We remembered and honored our heroes of war— and those whose lives were changed forever by their loss.

In remembrance, we probably sensed that this was not a time to talk about the dark side of our faith and fears. I’m guessing that most of us didn’t use our Memorial Weekend to talk with friends about whether our understanding of the goodness and love of God allows us to hope that our fallen heroes are in a better place, relieved of the torments of war, and finally at peace. If such thoughts did cross our mind, we probably found ourselves trying to fight off forbidden questions like— Does our faith require us to believe that many if not most of those who experienced the hellish conditions of war, woke with their last breath in a worse place—with no way back, or out?

In the past, some of us have fallen back on the words of Abraham who tried to negotiate for his loved ones in a soon to be judged city by reasoning, “Shall not the God of all the earth do right” (Gen 18:25). Or maybe we rightly reasoned that no one knows whether, in the moments of death, our loved one breathed something similar to the thief on the cross who said, “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

Followers of Christ often find ourselves in a difficult place trying to be honest about what we think we know and don’t know about those who die without making peace with their God. On one hand, we believe there is only one Savior who died for our sins and that, only by trusting his offer of salvation, can we enter into his love and mercy. But it’s just as true that many of us were raised within a system/and assumptions that gave us reason to believe in our own interpretation of Scripture— without helping us understand why other followers of Christ (throughout Church history) have read the same texts differently.

Could this be one reason the Apostle Paul urged his readers not to argue about words, but instead to focus on the Word/message of the good news— while leaving final judgment to the God who died to show his love for the world?

If there’s any merit to what I’m thinking, maybe a Memorial Weekend gives us a chance to hope that our God, by the sacrifice of his own Son, has purchased a way to mercifully love and forgive those who discover only in the price of war… and death… an opportunity to see and accept what they may have missed in life.

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23 Responses to “Memorial Hope”

  1. bubbles says:

    Good morning, Mart. Would you please further explain your last paragraph?

  2. Mart DeHaan says:

    Paul wrote in 1Corinthians, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. The love God asks of us is a love that comes from him. He has told us enough, and withheld enough— to allow us to hope… rather than to be hopeless in our love and faith.

  3. foreverblessed says:

    That passage in 1 Cor 13:7
    Love always Hopes
    And God is love.
    So God always Hopes.
    That is what I believe, so when there is a passage that says that people will be in hell forever, that forever must mean: ages and ages.
    And that the forever live of God, and what I just qouted, the forever Hope of God is longer than the forev

  4. foreverblessed says:

    The Love of God is longer than the wrath of God.
    And so I believe.

    And true Mart, it is best to trust God for these Big things, and do what Jesus told me, in Gospels,
    Believe that I am saved through Him, and that the Holy Spirit will give me strength to do what He commanded, to Love my enemies, to do good to those who hate me, that even so that might seem not to work now, it will give me peace of mind when I will meet my Maker.

  5. phpatato says:

    Good morning

    Mart, your last paragraph…..I am reading it as…..you are given hope, through what God hasn’t told us, that perhaps God has made an exception for those who die only in war, who are not saved in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Saviour????

    Like Bubbles, I am unsure of what it is you are thinking.

  6. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Paul said (1 Cor 13) the “greatest of these is love.” And, the Gospel-writer, John, wrote “God is Love.” Yet, for those who have no personal past experience with the promises of Jesus of Nazareth, the great lesson — perhaps the greatest lesson and change in personal perspective is hope.

    Just saw “Risen,” the film. Clavius, the Roman soldier, worships Mars in the way he has been taught. Yet, after experiencing Jesus’ presence and miraculous love, he says, “I don’t even know what to ask (of You).” Jesus knows, however, and asks this man of violence what frightens him. Then He asks, “Do you seek a day without death — peace?”

    At the end of the story, Clavius makes no grand declaration of monumental faith in Christ. He merely says, “I believe I can never be the same.” It seems to me this is a declaration of hope in Messiah — a day without death — peace that has no explanation except that Jesus is.

    We can share the Word of God — the Gospel — with those who go to war and return from war. For the fallen we can only pray. Men in their 20s and 30s are experiencing things that will haunt them all the rest of their lives.

    The love and healing that Jesus gives is the greatest hope in the universe. He really is our only Source. Why would a Jesus-follower share “hell” with these wounded? To share “heaven” it seems to me, is to offer hope in memory of our Lord.


  7. SFDBWV says:

    Memorial weekend has come and gone and I probably wasn’t alone in feeling disappointed that our little community on BTA wasn’t spending the weekend discussing it.

    For me it just is another example of how some people truly feel about such holidays.

    We can discuss the subject or we can play nice and have church patter and ignore what we really think by a continual string of Bible quotes meant to support both correct and incorrect doctrine.

    Honestly this late in the morning for me I am not sure where to begin or even if I want to.

    In a long history of how Christians should address the killing of other people as a defense against murderous aggressors there has never been a 100% consensus on the responsibility of being a Christian and being a soldier.

    This somewhat confusing argument goes back as far as the Roman execution of Christians in the colosseum for their amusement and will not be settled by our discussion.

    It makes me furious to hear people tell me that as Christians we should not protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our faith and our way of life. The like of which none of the hypocritical conscientious objectors would enjoy without the warrior who protects them.

    I have done what I can to remember my fellow, and especially my fallen, comrades in arms. I salute them and their sacrifice will never be taken for granted by me nor forgotten.

    If you Mart want to know what a person thinks about in the heat of battle, you have to be in that struggle to realize their thoughts are more of a reaction of trying to stay alive and for many that their last conscious thoughts.

    Recorded throughout history are the dying comments of men who call out to their mother or someone they love as life slips away from them.

    Who do you suppose will be your last thoughts of as death ends your life? That is if you have time to even think about anything.


  8. poohpity says:

    I have to say Mart I can see the merit of what you were saying. I gave time remembering the sacrifice these people have made for those they do not know personally but answered a call to serve. Yes God is the final judge of their eternal home and I trust their lives into His hands for Him to show how His love wins. They laid down their lives for our freedoms here and for those in the countries they fought in to stop horrors I can only imagine. My hope is that God is the righteous judge.

    I would never presume to ask those that are left behind whether their spouses, friends or family if they had ever accepted Christ in their time of mourning and grief just to add more sorrow on them for something we may never know for sure. I heard one preacher say that there will be people in heaven we thought we would never see there and not see some we thought were going to be there for sure but aren’t.

    Heaven is God’s Home and welcomes anyone He has loved which from what the bible says Jesus died for the sins of the world, everyone. So I am just grateful for the service of our military and leave the rest in God’s hands.

  9. joycemb says:

    KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.

    Thanks to Abstrakt Goldsmith for this nugget of history that most of us never learned in school.

  10. joycemb says:

    Mart I like your thoughts. So much more Christ-like in a world that bitterly hangs on to personal beliefs. The narrow way is following a Person, Jesus of Nazareth. And letting Him be the judge of the world. Knowning that everything the mind believes comes from a mind that can only be regenerated by Christ. Not churches, not family not anything that is externally focused. We can read and personalize what we read-which as we all know causes the problems of interpreting scripture. However when we know Christ, we know a love that goes beyond personal interpretation we can even bet our life on, and lose. Or win if we choose.

    As was said, we will all be surprised on our last day on earth, one way or another. What is the point in condemning others? Should we check our ego before we say anything more? Or maybe our emotional reactions, which are also as unpredictable as our egos? Everything about mankind was damaged, and still is. I think the most severely damaged is the mind that is closed to others perceptions and unwilling to learn. Let love rule our hearts and minds, the magnificent love of our God who died for us, so that we could live forever with Him. (Sigh)

  11. SFDBWV says:


    1870 Decoration Day parade in St. Paul, Minnesota
    The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom.[7] Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before[8] and during the American Civil War. A claim was made in 1906 that the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever decorated was in Warrenton, Virginia, on June 3, 1861.[9] Though not for Union soldiers, there is authentic documentation that women in Savannah, Georgia, decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves in 1862.[10] In 1863, the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claim that ladies there decorated soldiers’ graves on July 4, 1864.[11] As a result, Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.[12]

    Following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, there were a variety of events of commemoration. The sheer number of soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War (more than 600,000), meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.[13]

    A memorial-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. David W. Blight claims that “African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina”,[14] based on the accounts of the Charleston Daily Courier. However, Blight stated that he “has no evidence” that this event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.[15] During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Hampton Park Race Course in Charleston; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves.[16] Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled “Martyrs of the Race Course”. Nearly 10,000 people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children, newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools, as well as mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field.

    On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Earlier, the 89th Congress had adopted House Concurrent Resolution 587, which officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York.[17]

    Many other towns also claim that they held the first Memorial Day,[18] however, a recent study investigating dozens of origin theories concludes that nearly all of them are apocryphal legends.

    Source; Wikipedia

    The above mentioned Boalsburg is a town in PA named for one of my ancestors on my mothers side of my family.


  12. jeff1 says:

    War proves that man needs God. I had never seen violence until I got caught up in a riot in Derry/Londonderry in 1969 when shopping with my sister and parents.

    Outside the shop we where in was a mob who where firing bricks, stones and bottles at a man whom we later found was drunk and was standing in front of the police station.

    The blood was pouring out of him and my father and two other men pushed forward and grabbed him and took him into a shop near hand so that they could get him an ambulance.

    The man was too drunk to understand the danger he was putting himself into and the mob thought he was defending the police station and decided he was an legitimate target.

    I don’t think I really believed that people could behave like monsters until I witnessed this.

    This was the start of a war that was to last for 30+ years and scar people for the rest of their lives.

    There are no winners in war for God did not intend us to be warriors but I believe He understands that when under attack we will defend ourselves and I do not believe He will condemn us for that.

    We know that it is only God who can end war for history tells us that man does not know how.

    It is very difficult to imagine the lion laying down with the lamb as I think of the ferocious lion snarling and bearing his teeth and the gentle lamb lying in the field but it is God’s promise that we will see the day when men will not want to be Waring with his enemies.

    Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
    Ye soldiers of the cross,
    Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
    From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
    Till every foe is vanquished
    And Christ is Lord indeed.

    Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
    The trumpet call obey;
    Forth to the mighty conflict,
    In this, His glorious day.
    Ye that are men now serve Him,
    Against unnumbered foes;
    Let courage rise with danger,
    And strength to strength oppose.

    Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
    Stand in His strength alone;
    The arm of flesh will fail you,
    Ye dare not trust your own,
    Put on the gospel armour,
    Each piece put on with prayer;
    Where duty calls or danger,
    Be never wanting there.

    Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
    The strife will not be long;
    This day the noise of battle,
    The next the victor’s song
    To Him that overcometh
    A crown of life shall be;
    He with the King of glory
    Shall reign eternally.

  13. bubbles says:

    Respectfully, I say WOW! I do not know of a verse that says or implies people are given another chance once they have died.

  14. street says:

    “We remembered and honored our heroes of war”
    yes it is good to remember that some have received the grace of God and endured difficult trials where many seem to have not.

    “Followers of Christ often find ourselves in a difficult place trying to be honest about what we think we know and don’t know about….” and speak correctly about God. in other words to convey the grace, mercy and love of Christ on a daily basis. i know this is not impossible, but it is difficult. the phrase i believed therefor i speak keeps coming to mind.

    i ask the question how long Lord?

    11 Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?”

    And he replied,

    “Until their towns are empty,
    their houses are deserted,
    and the whole country is a wasteland;
    until the Lord has sent everyone away,
    and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
    If even a tenth—a remnant—survive,
    it will be invaded again and burned.
    But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down,
    so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”

  15. street says:

    steve said,”In a long history of how Christians should address the killing of other people as a defense against murderous aggressors there has never been a 100% consensus on the responsibility of being a Christian and being a soldier.” this may always be true, but it is not a problem God can not solve. it is a sign of many different growths in a garden. we are also aware not all voices in the garden are looking out for our good.

    i think of joshua and david…not the meek and mild we think of, yet children of God doing His will. the real interesting thing is assyria and babylon as instuments of correction.

    steve said,”If you Mart want to know what a person thinks about in the heat of battle, you have to be in that struggle to realize their thoughts are more of a reaction of trying to stay alive and for many that their last conscious thoughts.”

    thinking of the many battles of israel and how people who fled from battle trying to save their lives lost them and some who fought against impossible odds saved many. in away they lost their lives before the battle started. thinking of the courage that was built up in david as a young boy. you would never think that he would go up against a bear or a lion and survive. yet he did not shrink back from what was entrust to him. he understood the battle was God’s and when taunted by goliath he understood it was an easy battle compared to the former ones. ester is another who faced this personal battle and won. God plays no favorites. He loves them all.

  16. street says:

    forever said,”Love always Hopes
    And God is love.
    So God always Hopes.”

    i think faith is done away with and hope will be done away with, but love remains.
    paul talks about,” who hopes for what they already have?”
    and faith, who needs faith in heaven when you can point and say there’s Jesus or when He comes back and begins the millennial Kingdom. all at that time will see Him return. there will be no question in their minds. some may not enter it but they will see Him and know Who He Is. thinking of israel at the mtn where God first reveals Himself, it’s really going to get interesting in the future. keep your heart on the other side of the horizon.

  17. street says:

    jeff said,”There are no winners in war for God did not intend us to be warriors but I believe He understands that when under attack we will defend ourselves and I do not believe He will condemn us for that.”

    in jobs defense of his three friends, they claimed he sinned and God was punishing Him.

    “My spirit is crushed,
    and my life is nearly snuffed out.
    The grave is ready to receive me.
    2 I am surrounded by mockers.
    I watch how bitterly they taunt me.
    3 “You must defend my innocence, O God,
    since no one else will stand up for me.

    it is one thing to to ask God to defend your innocence it is another to kill and not know why they were angry at you. abraham did not need to know the motive of the raiders that took his nephew and his family. we are to respond to widows and orphans in their calamity so that later the land will be blessed with peace. training in war is one thing, training in hate is another. there will be an end to war and an end to hate. come Lord Jesus.

  18. jeff1 says:

    To my way of thinking you cannot divide war and hate for they are linked together.

    In my country hate was handed down from one generation to another and it ended in a war where it was not those who hated where the victims but all where victims and mens hearts claimed that both sides where justified in tit for tat killing and children seeing there fathers murdered then grew up to want revenge and only God can stop such thinking for history has proven that men do not stop on their own accord.

    I am old enough to know that man’s way is not God’s way or this world would be a very different one to what it is.

    I have seen men get angry because they believe that the authorities are not doing right by them and they lash out at anyone in their way and with no thought of consequences of their actions.

    To understand men possessed you have to see it in action and I have seen it and I have said before there are no winners on either side when God is not being considered and when anger takes over God is not being considered!

    My father knew this back in 1969 but no one listened to the voice of reason because that is what hate does it is contagious and it spreads like wild fire.

    I thank God for a younger generation who do not want to live their lives as we did but have the vision to see a better future for themselves and their children.

    God will be with them for instead of the generations before them wanting revenge they will seek peace and prosperity for the land and God will once again be pleased and prosper them for their insight.

    I am a product of my time like those in past wars all where; but the future is brighter because Jesus lives in Heaven and will control earth when all evil has passed away and hate and fear shall be no more.

    It has to be in God’s time and not at men’s command for it is us who submit to God and not He to us.

  19. poohpity says:

    bubbles, did I miss something? Who said that someone was given another chance after they die? But who knows what has happened just before they die?? Like the man on the cross next to Jesus.

    Is it something we should discuss during the time we celebrate the memory of the lives given in service to their country was the point I think Mart was trying to make. Getting all caught up in whether they were saved or not takes away from the sacrifice they made. What difference does it make to talk about them being saved after they have already died?

    We do not know what God will do in the last moments of anyone’s life. The time for sharing the “Good News” is when someone is alive. So maybe the question could be how many people have I shared the message of Christ with since none of us really know when we will take our last breath? That is after the all the mission God entrusted to us to share when they are alive after death we really can not share it with them then.

  20. poohpity says:

    It is so easy to share the message or what we believe on a Christian blog but how many people outside of those who go to church and claim to be Christians do we talk to about who we have placed our hope in or share what Jesus has done for us?

  21. street says:

    Paul wrote in 1Corinthians, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. The love God asks of us is a love that comes from him. He has told us enough, and withheld enough— to allow us to hope… rather than to be hopeless in our love and faith.

    mart trying to live without God builds anger resentment judgment condemnation cynicism and every other man made mental condition or mood. thinking about other failed relationships lead to the same thing. i can see bringing them to a cross clears the air. loving others that have hurt us is easier said than done. the focus has to be off our selves and on God, like when david went into the valley on numerous occasions. focus on what He has done! the cloud of witness should encourage us too! when i say bringing them to the cross i do not mean crucifying them. it more of letting God exam you and being willing to do what he requires. many times i did not go because i was not willing to change if need be. i would rather be self righteous.

    “rather than to be hopeless in our love and faith.”
    more like hopeful in our suffering.
    heard the old song Love hurts over the weekend. yes it does, love causes the death of self, yet we live. paul was an expert at love and so was the One he followed.

  22. SFDBWV says:

    Here in my world “Decoration Day” is a blend of remembering the warriors who sacrificed their lives for us as well as remembering loved one who have passed on.

    All efforts are put forth to make the cemetery look nice, well groomed, and maintained. Little flags are placed on the graves of veterans and flowers are placed on the graves of mothers, fathers, grand parents, children, family and friends alike.

    It becomes something of a home coming as people from away from here meet at the cemetery, in homes and along the street and talk of those past and of things remembered.

    There are many graves now that no longer have anyone to place a flower on them. Their graves are also well groomed and taken care of. Just because there are no family left to place a flower on them still they were once living breathing people, full of all the things that make life the journey and struggle that it is. So they too are cared for.

    In tradition all of the graves face east in silent patience awaiting that call to rise.

    In spite of all the modern dislike for the traditions of “organized” religion, all of the many sacraments and especially the Eucharist are acts of “remembrance” toward our Lord.

    And what was/is it that our Lord was all about? Our care and concern for others.

    While only Jesus of Nazareth could die for our salvation and atonement with God, many have died for our safety and wellbeing. Many also died full of hope and sadly some broken hearted with no hope at all.

    On Decoration Day we remember them all and for some of us our hope for ourselves as well as for those long dead remain in Jesus of Nazareth the Christ and in our Heavenly Father. Without discourse, without discussion without conditions, into His hands we commit them all as we remember them all.

    49 degrees and clear this morning.


  23. jeff1 says:

    Yes, Steve it is right to honor those who paid the supreme sacrifice and when I went to Ypres on a trip to the war graves it was what first drew my attention was how well they are kept and I believe that although the upkeep is paid for by the Americans/British etc it is Belgium that ensures there upkeep and they do an excellent job of doing it.

    Every night at 8pm buglers sounds the last post and I had the honor of being a part of it as I visited with ex military personnel.

    It was an eye opening experience to do the trip and I cannot imagine what those men went through but God loves the bones of them as He does us and if we could only focus on Christ and his life on earth and forget all the rest then we might at last agree that God got it right and no one can cast a stone at another so Christ died for us all because He knew what man is capable of given the wrong circumstances.

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