Lone Survivor, starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster, tells the incredible true-story tale of heroism, courage and survival of four Navy SEALs on a covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative. While being deployed upon their mission in a war-torn country, they are ambushed by the enemy in the rugged mountains of the South Central Asian country of Afghanistan. Faced with incredible decisions and even harder challenges, the small band of Navy brothers, behind enemy lines, is isolated from friendly aid and surrounded by a much larger force of guerrilla fighters, a mujahideen group of the Taliban (“holy warriors” or “freedom fighters”), ready for war. As these American soldiers confront these challenges together, the four men find deep within themselves the reserves of forte and resilience as they stay in the fight to the finish.
I am a huge fan of ‘engaging’ movies e.g. Military, Western, Martial Arts, Super Hero, etc. where valor, integrity, loyalty, and honor are elevated. Yes, I love a good chick flick or comedy, but many of my favorite films involve scenes of struggle, either an internal struggle that is overcome or a struggle from external forces. I am not a gore-monger, but rather, I see life as a battle and in that battle, we are faced with choosing which leader we will follow. There is the good side and the bad side. A right and a wrong. Wherever these poles meet, there is a battle. I served overseas. I am a Gulf War veteran and as such, many of my favorite films deal with war and battles both historical and modern. Movies like 300, War Horse, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, or foreign films like Saving General Yang and many others. It is a genre that I find fascinating; one that I enjoy watching and am encouraged by. Even when I read my Bible, I love reading the accounts of valor and faith as David slew the Giant, or Joshua lead the people to victory through his obedience at Jericho. There is a battle going on all around us … which side do we align with?
Without diminishing the sacrifice given by the real-life heroes Marcus Luttrell, Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matthew Axelson of the mission Operation Red Wings from which the movie Lone Survivor was taken from, we are faced with incredible challenges on a regular basis. Where the Lone Survivor heroes were faced with numerous gunshot wounds, rolling down rugged terrain, and falling down rocky cliffs, we are confronted with trials on a super-natural level even to that of a spiritual proportion. What do we do? What do we do when our boss challenges us? When our children ‘come against us.’ When our banker or creditor does not give us a break. When your spouse kicks us out of the house or when the doctor comes in with news we could not fathom. The world will say you should give up, quit, die, roll-over … but what should we really do?
Sometimes, it is good to face life’s reality. As a friend and I say, “Snow happens.” In other words, life can suck hard-boiled eggs. Our power or strength doesn’t come from our suffering though, but rather the response we have in those times and the habits we form in those hard times, in the stretching times. The Bible says in Psalm 119:71, that while we are in our afflictions, we can learn the statutes of the Lord. What do we do when we are in those challenging times? Do we murmur and complain that God does not understand what He is doing? So often we do. Proverbs 3:6 says that we should acknowledge God in all we do. 1 Timothy 4:10 instructs us to trust God … especially the believer. Psalm 3 is a beautiful chapter of God’s faithfulness despite David’s literal battles on the battlefield and with his children. Though we may not enjoy our trials, there are a few things that we can learn from our afflictions, from the trials we face in this life.
- This life, these trials, aren’t about us. It is not about our spouse, our boss, the credit card company, or the diagnosis. Our life, our trials, are about God. Do we allow God to be the center of our life or move Him out of the way for the latest event, the latest circumstance, or the most recent trial? What controls our life? Trials are opportunities to focus our hearts, examine our lives, and fine-tune the benefits of a life focused on God and HIS desires, to turn our hearts toward the Lord even more. So often, we forget the God Almighty who is jealous for our affections and we go through life with little thought of Him. Our trials have a way of halting our life, of putting on the brakes of our life, which gives us the chance to see our finite human nature and God’s infinite nature. As our trials drive us back to the Lord, back to His love letter to us, His Word, we will realize God’s love and care for us … his doting nature to love on us, for our good end Deut 8:5 & 16.
- Once we have a proper perspective of our trials, we learn that though God is concerned about our day-to-day life, 1 Peter 5:7, He is ultimately concerned with our eternal salvation and sanctification, John 3:16. When a natural disaster hits our home, when sickness or disease blasts against us, when our spouse deals us an ‘unforgivable’ blow … when our lives feel, or seem, useless … don’t quit … don’t give up! Rather, ask yourself, or ask God … “What am I focusing on? What can He show me through this? How can I reflect God’s love and glory through what I’m going through?” Such an intentional mindset gives us a healthy perspective in our challenging trials. It gives us a new sense of the sweet love God has for us, the sweet and tender knowledge that Christ has for us. Our trials can (and often) shine a spotlight on what’s in our hearts and we can learn what we are truly made of.
So as we’ve looked at the fact that life ‘sucks’ sometimes, tell me, how do you typically handle your struggles and challenges in life?
Until later . . . Jonathan Watson
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