Saturday, February 27, 2016

Battle Tested

When I was a young teenager, one of the greatest poems I ever heard stuck with me my entire life and still resonates with me to this day.  It was entitled, The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and it was written in 1854.  The poem was written for people of all ages to remember the suicidal charge by a light calvary, consisting of 637 soldiers on horseback with sabers and swords, charging into a valley facing 20 battalions of Russian infantry with over 50 cannons pointed at them from all directions.  The charge into the valley of death came from the 23'rd psalm.  It happened during the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) during the Crimean War 1854-1856.  Florence Nightingale trained and led nurses to help the wounded during that war.  It was also the beginning of what is now referred to as "war correspondents."

I'll briefly paraphrase this great poem:

"Half a league half a league, half a league onward, into the valley of death rode the six hundred.  Canon to the right of them, canon to the left of them, canon in front of them, volley and thundered.  Into the jaws of death, into the mouth of hell rode the six hundred.  Theirs was not to reason why.  Theirs was but to do and die."  

What was going through the minds of these soldiers as they were facing impossible odds?  Facing 20 battalions of the enemy and they were equipped only with sabers and swords.  I believe they were thinking to themselves, "Mine is not to reason why.  Mine is but to do and die."

In my life, as a young man and minister, I used to question how God could possibly let tragic things happen.  Like anyone, I experienced doubt and sometimes anger.  Where was God?  Why was this happening?  There were times when I felt that God would surely intervene in a particular situation, and He didn't.  Why not?  I didn't understand.  Perhaps I was not that important.  I didn't really know.  

As I have matured in age and emotions, I feel that I understand these things much better.  I only need to think back to His Son, Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He pleaded with God, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me."  Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him but He knew what He had to do.  His was not to reason why.  His was but to do and die.  Jesus then said, "Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."  He then went to the Cross.

We may never know during our life time why certain things happen to our friends and even to our self.  The Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 these words:  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Unfortunately, I have seen and listened to good people who feel that God abandoned them and will not forgive God.  Their hearts have hardened toward God and they just cannot get over it.  They just cannot let go of the anger and disappointment and even feel that God has betrayed them.  

In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus talked about Himself as the bread of life and that, "I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you."  When many of His disciples heard this they walked away from Jesus.  Jesus said in John 6:64:  "But there are some of you who do not believe.  For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him."  Jesus then asked the twelve apostles, "Do you also want to go away?"  "But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Are we sometimes like those disciples who walked away when they did not understand Jesus?  Do we behave like we were the ones Jesus was talking about when He said He knew from the beginning those who would not believe and would betray Him?  

We do not know the mind of God.  But one day we will if we do not lose our faith and we remain obedient no matter what the circumstances may be.  

We will go through many battles in our life.  We will win some and we will also lose some.  Through it all - we will be "Battle Tested."  
We may never know why some things happen but if we keep the faith - no matter what - one day we will and we will understand.  Until then, keep Jesus in mind.  Not my will but Your will be done and He died for us so we would have eternal life with Him.

I have learned in my life that God only wants what is good and right for us.  God loves us and when things happen that we don't understand we have to rely on our faith.  Let us not betray Him because we don't understand.  Let us remember the words of Job who despite not understanding at all what was happening to him said, "I know that my Redeemer lives . . . Yea though He slay me, I will not betray Him." 

That is being, "Battle Tested."  Job was rewarded for his faith many times over.  We will all be, "Battle Tested."  Let us keep the faith no matter what happens.  We know that our Redeemer lives.  

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