How To Honor The Dead

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God”

Matthew 5:9

It’s been well said that you aren’t truly living until you discover a cause thats worth dying for. Freedom often comes with a high price and on this Memorial Day we have much to celebrate and to give thanks regarding the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. While much of the world enjoys a long weekend, family get togethers and BBQ’s, we all do well to stop and to remember the sacrifices made by our fallen hero’s, the men and women of our military who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I could enjoy the freedoms we have come to know. Maybe the best way to honor the lives of those who have died is by the way we live.

Yet, beyond the celebrations there remains today a road less traveled, a road marked with suffering that as a nation we do well to recognize and honor. I am always humbled by the stories of those who have suffered the loss of a loved and who by God’s grace are able to rise from the ash heap and exchange beauty for ashes as they take giant leaps of faith and learn not to, "Stuff" their pain but to allow themselves time to grieve properly, yes properly, when dealing with death and loss that not only touch us all but if shared, bind us together. For many death is what separates us from our loved ones, while for the follower of Jesus, for the lover of God, death can and does also unite us. Thats our hope, just as the Bible declares, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Death has a way of shaping us and helping us to recognize what’s important from what is not. Death helps bring meaning to life, to its fragility and to remind us to seize each day for one day we too will pass from this life to the next. It’s been well said that our greatest testimony is how well we relate to the pain in our lives. In other words, we do well to remember that God never wastes a hurt. Your deepest pain is God’s pulpit in your life. On Memorial Day we take time not only to remember how those in our armed forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice lived, but also how they died. Every Memorial Day I am reminded of the Coast Guard rescue swimmers motto, “So that others may live.”

We must never forget the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf, for in forgetting our tendency is to repeat the same mistakes that caused the conflict to begin with. The old expression is true, “History not learned from tends to repeat itself.” The book of James reminds us that at the core of every conflict is ingratitude. Selfishness can be traced back to original sin. It only makes sense then that on Memorial Day we purposely stop to give thanks and to appreciate those whose selflessness and sacrifice is the foundation of all the freedoms we enjoy this day. May we appreciate their sacrifice by the way we ourselves live so that others may live. Isn’t that the message of the Gospel after all?

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”

John 15:13


Michael Osthimer




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