Dear Covenant members, my partners in the Gospel,
I am reading a book about the Pacific front in World War II. And one paragraph in particular brought to mind some of the subjects I have been preaching about from Paul's Second Letter to Timothy. Paul invites Timothy, and by extension he invites us, to "join with me in suffering for the Gospel." And in 2 Timothy 2:3, Paul gives a picture to that with this phrase: "Share in suffering like a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
The paragraph is about the United States Marines who were on the island of Peleliu in November of 1944, fighting a fierce Japanese army who will not surrender.
It is dawn as they (the Marines) prepare to attack, but few have slept, as the Japanese sent soldiers out in the night to infiltrate the American lines. They are thirsty, for the equatorial heart is relentless, never dipping below 100 degrees, even at night. Coral tears their clothing, cuts through their boots, and is heated by the sun, burning their skin on contact. The three-pound steel helmets protecting their heads from shrapnel also serve as pillow, cook pot, and latrine. Many choose not to wear underwear or a T-shirt due to the heat, and are not likely to change their socks for days at a time -- if at all. The water with which they fill their canteens is rust-colored and tastes like gasoline because the Navy has stored the water in 55 gallon drums that once stored fuel. The Marines desperately need to drink, but the water makes them nauseated. And yet they must attack.
And so is the call for the soldiers of Christ -- to go forward with the cross of Jesus, no matter what hardships we endure and no matter what enemy is in front of us.
Just some thoughts.