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Wounded Soldiers

A veteran of the Iraq war recalls patrolling a street in Mosul on an ordinary Saturday morning when a grenade, tossed from a rooftop, exploded under his Humvee. He says he remembers lying on his stomach in the street unable to move his arms or legs. Blinded by the smoke, his ears were ringing as other bombs went off. Sensing that he was losing a lot of blood, he thought, “This is it, I’m going to die.” Then he heard someone calling his name. He felt a rush of comfort as he realized, “They’re here! They didn’t just run off and leave me!”

Closer to home, four gunshots broke the rhythm of a normal day. Within minutes, the air erupted with sirens. More than 50 police cars swerved in and out of traffic, slid on shoulders to get around stopped cars, and converged on a crime scene where the call had gone out, “Officer down!”

Both of these efforts in behalf of a fallen comrade remind me of a song by Steve Green, titled, “Wounded Soldier.” In this case, however, a battlefield is envisioned where downed sons and daughters of the church are often left to themselves. So the music pleads, “See all the wounded; hear all their desperate cries for help . . . Don’t let a wounded soldier die.”

But how realistic is it to try to apply a military code of conduct to those who fall to wounds of the heart? Isn’t it naïve to think that everyone in the church community who is hurt can be rescued, or that those who are sidelined by bitterness, disillusionment, or wounded pride would even want help?

Some are hurt by others. The Bible gives us examples of people who fell victim to the wrongs of others. Joseph was falsely accused by his employer’s wife and thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit (Genesis 39). A dear friend betrayed the trust of David (Psalm 55:12-14). Then there was Job. Three of his friends demoralized him by insisting that he was hiding a sin that would have explained his loss of family, health, and wealth (Job 4:7; 19:19).

Most are wounded by their own wrongs. People like Moses, David, and Peter are well known for the personal failures that brought reproach not only on themselves, but also on those who loved them. In addition, the Bible tells the stories of priests, kings, and disciples who, after being called to be servants of God, fell as a result of their own bad judgment.

Such casualties often come with complications. Those who are callous enough to do great harm to others often deny they are in trouble and refuse help. Such persons are not easy to help because they fall into the military categories of AWOL, defector, or even traitor.

What is important about the wounded people of the Bible, however, is that even those who have themselves to blame are not ignored by God. Neither does He say, “They made their bed. Let them lie in it.” Instead, time after time, without removing the scars, the losses, or the telltale limp, the Father of heaven shows His willingness to put His fallen children back on their feet.

When our first parents trusted a snake instead of their Creator, God followed them into the trees where they were hiding. He sent Adam and Eve out of the garden, but restored them to Himself. When Moses killed an Egyptian and ran for his life, God followed Moses into the wilderness where He eventually restored him to usefulness. When King David had an affair with the wife of one of his own officers and then conspired to have her soldier husband die in battle, God didn’t overlook David’s sin or turn His back on him. Instead, God sent a prophet to confront David, accepted his confession, and restored his faith—without erasing many of the consequences that followed David to his death.

All of us need to know how to help and be helped. When we are the ones who have hurt others and ourselves, the enemy of our souls wants us to think we are finished. The devil doesn’t want us to believe that the One who died for us is ready to come to our rescue. Neither does our accuser want us calling for help. He would rather see us live the rest of our lives, hiding in the shadows, blaming others, or endlessly beating ourselves up for our foolishness.

Our God, however, is a Father who never stops loving His children. He wants us to know that regardless of what we have done, there is a way for our heart to be brought close to His.

While there are no easy formulas, there are ways for us to come clean, without excuses and with appropriate amends for our wrongs.

Being honest before God and one another is essential to rescue and recovery. Love will keep us from pressuring one another to repent or forgive before we are ready. Wisdom will show that although our relationships may never be the same again, the grace and mercy of God can enable us to restore oneness of mind and purpose (Luke 17:1-5; 1 Corinthians 1:10-11; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

No one is in a better position to help others than one who knows what it means to be forgiven. Only as we remember the mercy shown to us are we in a position to respond to wounded brothers and sisters the way our men and women in uniform respond to their own.

Quick fixes are nice when they happen. But when first responders rush to a serious accident, any emergency treatment is usually just the beginning of a long process of care and rehabilitation. The same can be expected when it comes to the challenge of restoring wounded hearts. 

Father in heaven, when we see those in uniform rushing to the side of an injured comrade, we are inspired. Forgive us for ignoring and even shooting our wounded. Please renew in us the Spirit of Your Son who rescued us with the patience and kindness we desperately needed. –Mart De Haan

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