It is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a day to honor the fallen men and women in the armed forces who lived and died in service to this country. Honor them in your celebrations and be thankful for their sacrifice. Remember their loved ones and pray peace over them.
Honoring our loved ones after death looks different to different people. Whether we grieve openly or privately, the feeling of loss and incompleteness follows us. We often replay our last moments with the person and wish for just one more hug where we would never want to let go. We do not want to fall into the trap of elevating or idolizing our loved ones in death, so how do we correctly honor their memory?
We honor our loved ones by saying their names. The memory of each person is unique and worthwhile. We say the name of our loved ones, our friends, and our family members so that they are not forgotten. We say the name of the fallen service-member heroes to honor the sacrifice they made to preserve our country. We cannot recite the names of all who have gone before us, but when each family remembers the influence of those around them then those individuals are honored. We say their names because they were a person and their memory is worth remembering.
We honor our loved ones by telling their story. We may have had a full lifetime with a loved one or we may have just shared one conversation with a new acquaintance before they passed away. We may only hear the stories of fallen heroes on the news or we may have trained with them side by side. Each person has a unique story of their life, their decisions, and their influence. We share who they were, where they came from, and where they went in life. We share their struggles and how the Lord made a way for them to persevere. We share how their life influenced who we are today. We share the stories of our loved ones to honor them and to learn from their mistakes and triumphs.
We honor our loved ones by pursuing their purpose. On Memorial Day, we enjoy living in freedom due to the sacrifice of servicemen and women. We do not abuse that freedom and we seek to maintain the freedoms in our country. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence) We honor our loved ones by pursuing Christ and striving to further His Kingdom. We raise our family to know Christ and to make Him known. We pursue the purpose of those who have gone before us and impart their heritage to our children and our children’s children (Deut. 4:9, 5:9-10, 6:6-9).
While we may not all know a fallen service-member personally, we all have heard their stories. Honor them today. Remember their sacrifice. Pray for our serving service-members that they may walk in safety and that the may know the Lord. Most of us have probably lost a loved one, whether a close family member, a friend, or even a friend of a friend whose effects of loss we witnessed. Honor their memory and use those experiences to remember Gold Star families today. Say their names. Share their stories. Pursue their purposes.
During this time of isolation, we give hugs and even hand shakes sparingly. We lessen physical contact to preserve our health. While the connection through online meeting rooms and FaceTime have helped fill our need for community, we feel the loss of warmth and presence. How we long for the day when we can gather together and freely offer hugs again. It will feel like a deep, comforting breath when we’ve been stuck with short, harsh breaths for so long.
But friend, just imagine! Imagine the day we enter glory and our faith becomes sight. Imagine the long awaited hug we are able to give our Big Brother, Friend, Redeemer, Savior, and Lord: Jesus Christ. That alone is fulfillment of joy in itself. But God created us for community and He desires for His people to be gathered together. In heaven we will be surrounded by the body of believers and those loved ones who we have so missed on this earth! No longer will we be wishing for just one more hug, but we will have all of eternity to hug one another and praise the Lord together!
So as restrictions are lifted and you begin to fellowship again, allow those hugs to give you a little taste of heaven. Linger in the longing and look forward to eternity to come.
*For those who will not reunited with loved ones in glory, make every effort in this life to share the good news of Jesus. Pray for the Spirit to soften the hearts and minds of your friends and family so that they might acknowledge their need for a Savior and turn to Him. Walk in faith that the Lord is drawing is people to Himself and that He desires for all to know Him.