Music may be to loud... Use your volume control, please.
Soldiers of Misfortune
Some construction workers were taking a break near a school crosswalk and observed a small child, with braces, who was having a hard time walking to school. One of the men turned to a coworker, who was a Christian, and asked him sarcastically, "if there is a God then why did he make that child a cripple?" He went on to complain against God and pointed to many other unfortunate situations. He thought there were no good reasons for adverse things to happen to those who were relatively innocent.
It just so happened that a few years before this incident this same Christian had lost his wife and their three children in a car accident. However, adversities had started for him even before this tragedy. His parents had divorced when he was ten years old, and his mother was soon after this diagnosed as being schizophrenic. The authorities and the family had to have her committed first to the Imola State Hospital. She was to spend many of her remaining years in institutions and rest homes. This man, on several occasions, had to take his mother back to the hospital (though she would beg him not to). This was because she would quit taking her medicine and as a result would soon began to bug her neighbors. She would walk into their homes at any hour of the day or night. Yet, those same neighbors and family friends thought it was terrible for him to commit her again. For several years he took care of his two brothers and kept them in school. Years later one half brother, at twenty two years of age, would shoot himself with a shot gun, after having an argument with his wife. This left his brother's young wife to raise their small daughter by herself. Then just a few years later his own father took his life by taking an overdose of codeine washed down with whiskey.
This Christian man knew what it meant to suffer adversity and he would continue to face more as time went on. Did he have an intelligent answer for his co-worker? You be the judge.
God gives us warriors of tragedy and adversity as a way to reveal his glory and to prove his people.
People who suffer adversity are not always personal witnesses for God. However, if you will be still and ponder you will see God in their misfortune.
Why would God want to create evil or calamity?
How can there be anything good come from tragedy or evil?
If you will look up this bible text you will find that it refers to a man who had a physical impairment. Jesus said this did not come upon him because of any sin in either his parents or himself, but it happened so that God could be glorified. Yes, in this case Jesus healed him, however any adversity can produce a praise to God if it is handled right. This man was a Soldier of Misfortune.
In this present age we are so consumed with the quest for pleasure that most of us run from anything that resembles thankless hardship. We are so involved with our own little selfish world that we do not want to be bothered by anyone's difficulties. We do not want to see any animals or people suffer, for when we see suffering it is disconcerting and takes away our tranquility. It is so easy to just run away and leave others to suffer alone and offer them no support simply because we want to avoid some form of unpleasantness. Yes, we should want to alleviate all suffering. But it is not right to do this just because we want to get rid of our personal mental discomfort over another persons' misfortune.
Too often people talk about someone's pitiful condition and wish that person would either die or get well.
Yes, it is good to want them well, but it is seldom right to want anyone to die just because they are in some dire mental or physical adversity. They have a Job to do and we need their endeavors.
There are numbers of challenged people who are very positive in their approach to life and many of them are a delight to know and be around.
This is also true with many of the people who have chosen a career that involves working with and for those who are limited in their ability to take care of themselves. Such as those who have chosen to work in the nursing field, teachers, doctors, etc.
The development of character does not take place in a vacuum.
Again - some, who portray the most admiral characteristics, are found among those who have committed themselves to serve others in the hard thankless area of being a care giver. Changing the diapers of the bed stricken elderly, etc.
It seems the type of exercise care givers get helps to make them into upbeat, likable, and deeply caring, people.
Society has insulated itself from difficulty.
We need stress and adversity, so we can struggle with life and develop muscles in the area of good character.
Tragedy and adversity exercise us in compassion, patience and endurance. (If we let it.)
Too many of us are hard hearted, insensitive and cruel from not exercising our compassion.
Society is now too cold and sterile and is starting to promote premature death as a way to alleviate suffering and financial hardship.
Yes, there will soon be clinics set up and they will make money killing weak, sickly people.
Many people in these situations suffer from periods of depression. When they feel down they want to die. However, on one of their good days they will fight to keep living.
We keep hearing about those who have a poor quality of life. Yet, poor eyesight, deafness, etc. can be considered as reducing the quality of life.
Who is to decide what qualifies as a life of quality? Instead of this we should be looking for new ways of giving comfort to our soldiers of misfortune as they go about building our gentleness and compassion. You see, if we will hear their message to us we will be encouraging them to live. But if we want to send them on before their time we remove their hope and reason for living.
Many people are moved to take care of these soldiers for emotional reasons. They are moved when they remember that these soldiers are made in the image of God and that whatever you do to the least of these you have, in a sense, done it unto God. This is fine, but there is another present and down to earth reason for us to be about comforting these soldiers.
We will continue to become more unstable and a far less peaceful society until we learn from, and have great appreciation for, the contributions of our Soldiers of Misfortune.
Many uncivilized people help their soldiers of misfortune, die prematurely. They do this because they do not respect life, or because of their other barbaric philosophies. Please note, these societies have never known the level of peace and prosperity that this nation has provided. Many of these backward cultures have elevated animal life above human life.
When we logically evaluate human life we see that all other forms of life, things or circumstances are infinitely less in value.
When we put a life on the balances of justice there is nothing that will balance it out except another life.
So, if we accept anything less, as a trade for life, we are undermining and threatening the peace of our society. Is it possible to stack enough money on the balance to outweigh the value of a life?
Can you balance out the scales of justice with pain on one end and life on the other? How about putting convenience and pleasure on these scales, will they balance out against life?
If we say that pain, pleasure or inconvenience are worth a life then whose life are we going to take, yours or mine or one of your relatives? In some cases we might be able to take away one person's pain by killing some other person for their healthy organ.
What if a doctor, who is about to produce a cure all, needs a new heart and your heart is a perfect match. So, if you die, many others might live.
We say it should be legal to take your life or have someone else take it away from you when you no longer have any quality of life?
So, since your brain is not so good we have lined up a very wealthy man who wants your good strong heart.
Are you an inconvenience and a pain to someone? Is there someone who wants your job, your children, or your money? You may want to live, but as you lay in a hospital hovering between life and death your wife whispers in your ear and says, "Honey - we both want our Johnny to have a good education and there's this man who will pay five million dollars for your heart."
Whenever you say you want the freedom to exit life by taking a painless death pill, then you have said that pain or some other problem (or even stress over finances), can balance out against the value of a life. If we believe this and do it we have devalued everyone's life to something infinitely less then it should be.
If we reach a place of total incapacity, where we are unable to function, or cannot do anything but breath, we still have a very worthy and honorable job to do.
Please give those around you the chance to exercise their compassion. Provide people with the high honor of helping you. Do not be so full of pride and selfishness that you want out early. Or, do not provide the basis of devaluing all the rest of our precious lives by giving into pain and self pity.
We need to remember we are not all knowing. There have been numbers of seemingly miraculous recovery's. Numbers of people who have been in a comatose condition have detailed things that happened around them, while everyone thought they were brain dead. They were innocent, still some wanted to let them die. They were able to hear the suggestions of the Doctors and the response of their relatives and friends.
What did they want? What have they said about this type of situation? Are they young, or are they otherwise healthy, and do they have any, even, slight chance of recovery? We need to think about them and not elevate our inconvenience above their life.
I have known people who have lived for decades with excruciating pain from disintegrating spines, plates in their heads, terrible head aches, having to take drugs to sleep, etc. Still, some of them raised their families, buried their spouses and laughed at jokes. Others were just good people, good company, and, yes, there were others who appeared to be only good for exercising our compassion and patience and endurance. No matter, they were all doing a much needed Job.
Yes, there are those who have put themselves into these adverse positions by the way they lived and some of them do not deserve any attention. Still they provide us with much needed lessons and we will become better individuals for having taken care of them.
We will also have helped to maintain a more secure and peaceful environment for all other people.
Yes, it is much better and far more pleasant to be taught, how to live and die by those Soldiers of Misfortune, who have good character.
Please remember - without them and without our caring for them, we will become a more selfish, vicious, and uncaring society.
If you will look around you will see that we are already suffering from a terrible lack of respect for life.
We need solders of misfortune, those who are mentally or physically challenged or you that are challenged by some other adverse situation.
We must have some willing to suffer for us.
We desperately need those special people who will stick around and put up with our awkwardness and backwardness. They build our character by exercising our compassion and patience, while challenging our ability to cope.
Soldiers of Misfortune make us more thankful for the good days we all have had, and so help make us into far more respectable human beings.
Life is the most valuable gift in this world, no matter how difficult and painful it may be.
In the area of capital punishment we must understand that to protect life we must be willing to take a life.
If a wicked murderer is a dire threat to others, we have a balance on the scale of justice, and in many cases their life should be taken. Many prison guards have lost their lives at the hands of murderous prisoners. This also means that due to our imperfection we will occasionally err and take the life of an innocent person.
This is kin to the cost of war and we must be willing to do this in our communities or we will loose all of our peace.
When an innocent person loses his life due to a mistake that is made by our judicial system, they too become soldiers of misfortune.
Their lives were given for the peace of their community just as much as any other soldier.
Our justice system is not perfect, so it is not always fair. However, it does a far better job now then it did in the distant past. And we must and we will make it better. Please remember, to mistakenly kill someone, who is innocent, as we set about to protect the lives of others in society, is not an immoral act. Yes, it is not fair, still it is not immoral or unjust. We must protect lives and society.
Yes, yes, justice, is crude and leaves us hurting.
Still, for now, we have to settle for what it provides.
- And yes, we must keep striving for more accurate justice.
The, occasional, unfortunate death of an innocent person is an essential and just price to pay for the peace of a society in an imperfect world. Admittedly - it is not fair.
To kill a wanton willful murderer is just, but it still does not produce fairness. The only way to make it fair would be to restore the lives of those they had killed.
This is impossible.
Life is not fair to our innocent soldiers of misfortune. So, let us at least give these warrior's justice, consideration, honor and as much comfort as we can. In return we will become people of character and better prepared to live in peace.
There can never be any good proven soldiers without a war or without hardship or sacrifice. God deserves only the best soldiers. We all have the freedom of choice and, yes, we can give up when times get hard. However, it is only those who stick in there and keep their chin's up, and make the best of what ever happens to them, who will receive the greatest reward. They are the ones who have proven themselves worthy by toughing it out. Still, it is not always evidence of moral failure to be afraid and want to turn and run. God knows where we are and he takes that into account. He judges us by our heart or by what we really would like to do. Jesus even prayed to God, "If it be possible let this cup pass from me."
When life gets real hard and to the point where we think we can't take anymore, we need to remember he has already been there. If God allowed his precious son to suffer such agony for us we should not think it is so bad for us to suffer. The Bible says that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering. This is also what we learn.
Character comes through being obedient to what is right before God. If we are suffering and take it we are being obedient. Though we can't handle the pain and are ashamed of our weakness he still knows what we want to do. He can see through our weakness and weighs our inward desire. Our weakness and failure can be good for us. It proves to us that we need a merciful, forgiving and loving God and that we need to be exercised even more.
You see the Bible is right and just. The problems we have with it come about because we do not ponder on it and honor God by trusting him.
These thoughts were Inspired by many Soldiers of Misfortune, but they first began to come together, for me while learning, as Pastor Paul Winter lived out his last sermon. You ask, how did he preach this message? It was from the depths of his confusion as he progressed into the last stages of the miseries of Alzheimer's. As we as a family changed his diaper, fed him, bathed him and then seen after him in a rest home. We were all exercised for our own betterment. Long after the average victim of this disease could say anything, Paul would still on occasion, in the middle of his unintelligible mumbling, call out some of his people's names and answer in the affirmative when asked if he was praying or asked if he was OK.
There is no failure or bleak future awaiting the Christian after they leave this life. They know that there is no sting in death, other then that period of time that it takes for them to be transferred.
It is this fact that has increasingly provided the world more and more freedom from dictatorial oppression.
All down through time Christians have been unresponsive in the face of death threats. They hold their ground and willingly die for righteousness.
They are willing to die rather then walk away from their responsibility to others. As a result they are more then willing to take the witness stand or to fight for their country or to visit and nurse others who have been afflicted with a deadly disease, etc.
When you have seen a Christian who always had a ready smile, who's life was filled with service and integrity, and who seldom, if ever, complained, who lived a simple life, and who stood tall in the face of death, and never swerved from their faith, you know you have seen a person who is headed for a far better place.
You can rest assured that their Christ abolished the sting of death hell and the grave nearly 2000 years ago.
Thank you Jonesy.
By Vern Manson 10-9-92 / 3-7-96 / 7-26-99 /8-5-00
13 years old? A little lady had a birthday recently, I wonder if she remembers her Great Grandpa, Paul? I wish her well. 6-26-01