War – An ever costly, atrocious event which canvases the complete depravity and sin-filled evil in which we reside. Though games and pictures glorify it, the reality is so awful words can barely be uttered to express it.

It strips people of peace and joy. Those who’ve fought in it come back doubting the goodness in man. They’ve seen the deepest evil people are capable of. Even if not wounded physically, their minds remain plagued by it; their eyes holding a haunting haze.

Soldiers deploy with deep passion and honour. They’re going to fight for their nation, the people they love, and the freedoms they’ve appreciated. Soldiers’ pride is strong as they vow to protect all of these.

They plan to fight as one united front towards the enemy. They want to liberate the oppressed and make their country proud.

Dressed in uniform, they board the planes and ships. They’ve been training for this day. Family, friends, and other supporters cheer them on as they depart.

Then reality hits everyone.

Military families are overwhelmed by many tears and prayers of longing for their soldier to come home. They search news articles and updates from the army base daily. They check the mail, email, social media, and any other forms of communication frequently in hopes to hear from their soldier.

The family and friends are always trying to think of ways to encourage their soldier. They send letters, packages filled with his/her favourite things, and get their community involved.

Meanwhile, the soldier feels like he’s slowly dying inside. As the war rages all around him, he’s plagued with doubts if this truly is something he should be doing. He’s exhausted from the fight, always being on edge wondering what the enemy’s next moves will be. At times, politics get in the way and forces him to wait while he watches his allies get injured. He wants to run and erase all of this from his memory.

Yet he’s filled with guilt and conviction to continue, constantly trying to find ways to support his brothers in arms. A bond is forming between them all. No one will ever be able to relate or understand him like his comrades can. They’ve experienced these atrocities together and have fought hard to keep each other alive. They challenge one another frequently to focus on what they’re fighting for. They do anything they can to keep their sanity.

They’ve seen soldiers die around them – men and women who also had families and friends back home. They were people with their own stories, not just a body wearing a uniform. If they made it through their deployment, most return home broken.

Their families and friends are deeply relieved and are filled with great excitement as their soldier approaches them. Hugs linger for minutes, never wanting to let them go again.

As the excitement wanes as the months carry on, evidence of the cost of war becomes ever more apparent to the soldier’s loved ones. Their soldier isn’t the same person they once knew. His eyes don’t carry the same light they once did. His laugh is half-hearted. He’s in their presence but his mind is elsewhere. Part of him wants to be left alone, and oddly, the other part wants to be back on the battlefield with his brothers in arms. The family can’t understand why he would ever want to return. But deep down, that’s all he knows now. That’s where he found purpose, understanding, and support. He had a common mission.

Now, he’s lost. He struggles to find purpose in any other work. The comforts of home are overwhelming. He realizes that his family and friends have moved on. Their lives continued to advance and change while he was away. Where does he belong?

Should he get help? Who would be able to help him anyway? He refuses, thinking it’ll make him look weak, cowardly. Maybe he should resign from the army? No, he can’t do that. He feels he’d be letting his men down if he did. Could he live with that guilt? He remains trapped, not knowing what is best.

This is the cost of war. Some men and women don’t make it home. The family receives the devastating news from the military and are presented the folded flag at the funeral. Others do make it back, but are deeply affected by what they’ve seen and had to do.

As you approach Remembrance Day tomorrow, I ask you to show great respect. Take time to pause and show your gratitude for the millions of men and women who’ve fought for your freedoms, your nation, and your family. They’ve confronted the horror of war on your behalf.

To those who are connected to veterans, reservists, and active soldiers, please encourage them to seek help if needed. It actually shows strength and courage, not weakness, to get help.

Most importantly, let them know there is always hope. Though they’ve seen the depravity of man and sin at their lowest, there’s still so much more to life. Someone named Jesus understands the cost of war and sacrifice. He fought the battle and was murdered on all of our behalf. He fought the worst of evil in order to bring the best of hope and victory. He offers great hope and peace to the wounds in which the soldiers bear. He alone can undo the damage. His love and truth will give them purpose and a place to call home.

We remember our brave soldiers and their families. We honour their sacrifice and service. And we offer the hope and peace their weary hearts are longing for. Even the darkest days carry hope and light. Never give up.

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