Many of you know that I have a special respect, admiration, appreciation for the Navy SEALS. They form arguably the most disciplined and elite force among all the Armed Forces of the United States of America. The mental and physical testing one must survive to earn the SEAL trident is beyond brutal. Then there is the infamous Hell Week. Hell Week lasts almost six days — Sunday evening to Friday morning — during which students run more than 200 miles, often with boats on their heads, swim, do hours of physical training with logs, and numerous other brutal evolutions. They are constantly wet, cold, and sandy and only get about four hours of sleep throughout the entire week. During Hell Week, students are fed regularly and consume over 8,000 calories a day but still lose weight. That crucible of suffering also produces a sense of camaraderie and team that few of us will ever know.
One of the “unofficial” rules that the SEALS live by is “Leave no man behind”. This unwritten “SEAL code” arose from the Teams battlefield experiences in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere. SEALS have held to this code, never leaving a teammate in the field, dead or alive. It is this code that I would like to explore today.
Like it or not, the Christian life today is a battle, and we are warriors. If you have any doubts about that, re-read these words the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter six:
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
Sure sounds like warfare to me. Add to that the daily battles such as health issues, financial stresses, relationship struggles, alcohol and drug addictions, and the ubiquitous sexual temptations, and it is little wonder that many of our fellow Christian warriors often lie wounded on the battlefield. The call of today’s message is this:
We can’t leave the casualties on the battlefield!
Please understand that the bonds we have formed with our fellow believers should be every bit as strong as those experienced by the Navy SEALS. We are bound together by the saving grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many of us have already come through personal trials and struggles every bit as daunting as Hell Week, and those experiences have strengthened our bonds even more.
When then, we notice one of our own injured and hurting, we must not ignore it, but promptly and lovingly see that assistance is provided. A believer’s wounds can take many forms, and we should be sensitive to them. Someone may be struggling with a personal health issue or that of a loved one; they may be struggling in a relationship; they may be dealing with legal or financial issues; they may be battling an addiction; they may be struggling with a mental health issue; or perhaps they are experiencing “The dark night of the soul.” The key is this: Just as the SEALS get their wounded off the battlefield and to the treatment that is needed, we have the same responsibility to our brothers and sisters in the faith. All of us are called to run the race with endurance, perseverance, and faith. Along the way, each of us may become “wounded” and require assistance. Some things we can do to assist a hurting one might be:
*Pray for the one who is struggling or wounded
*Consider a timely call, card, or message of encouragement
*Consider having coffee or a meal together
*Come alongside them if appropriate and ask what you can do to help (Best to stay with your own gender here…)
*Share your observation CONFIDENTIALLY with the pastor, an elder, or another spiritually mature one
*Consider that they might just need a friend- can that be you? (again stay within your own gender please)
*Some situations do require the services of a trained professional, remember you are likely not one.
Like all of you, I eagerly look forward to hearing one day: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”