Thoughts on Remembrance Day

Thoughts on Remembrance Day

imagesWe are all so heartbreakingly small. We feel like we are the center of the world because we see the world through only one set of eyes and that set takes on epic proportions. I know when I am really happy; when there is a bounce in my step and I feel light, I cannot believe how unhappy or indifferent the people around me appear to be about life. Just like when we were newlyweds we couldn’t figure out why so many people thought our commitment was such a big deal and staying married for a long time would be a real achievement, of course, we thought, you stay married, isn’t marriage fun?

Or when I am very sad, brought low by newsreels, news of the congregation, or the newsfeed from my family. When things aren’t going right or after some tragedy when it seems like things will never be the same again, how come so many people are oblivious to the pain all around them? Can’t they see that I am broken?

Of course they don’t because I only appear to be the center of it all to me.

Remembrance day is when we recall and thank those who have fought in the various wars that have taken place. For me it is a time when I remember how absurdly small a life can be. Think of the outrageous numbers of dead in the two “Great” Wars. Think of all the parents with broken hearts, all the widows not yet 25 years old. Think of all the boys who will never go to school, raise kids, walk daughters down aisles or teach their sons how to be fathers and men. Millions upon millions of lives shockingly stopped mid-sentence.

Imagine the work and the pride and the joy in building homes and businesses and cute little downtowns. Imagine the passion that drives people to make the places they live beautiful, the shutters, the doors, the flowers, the curtains, the clean swept streets, the careful picked out streetlights, the work not just of a single lifetime but of generations who waited and watched the trees grow…evaporated, eviscerated, ruined, in seconds. Our lives are so small sometimes.

So we huddle up with family, we branch out through social media, we find ways to convince ourselves we exist and that we matter and that our lives aren’t so small and they aren’t so fragile. It makes sense.

Perhaps, all our striving to be made known and made real is caused by our innate understanding that we aren’t as small as war can make us feel. Many of us have forgotten that in truth we are loved by one whose love gives meaning and purpose. Scripture tells us that even the hairs on our head are numbered, they are counted by the king of the universe the creator of all (Luke 12:7). It also tells us that each and every one of us is made in his image (Gen. 1:27). Few of us can take real solace in this knowledge, especially on a day like Remembrance Day. Just as few of us can take refuge in the fact that He has searched us and known us (Psalm 139). I’m working on it, and would love to have some company in doing so.

One Comment

  1. Jared

    Heavy thoughts, Chris, but worth hearing. War does make us feel small, as do so many of the small tragedies of life. In times like Remembrance Day, I remember my young cousins who were taken away, and my Aunt who died a year ago this Christmas. War often gives people meaningless deaths, but a lot of times we can associate their suffering with a cause, something they died for. It’s harder to say that with children who suffer pointlessly from cancer, with kids who are run over in an accident.

    But I think every death, whatever the cause has the same jarring effect: It shocks us and demands of us that we see the world as meaningless, pointless, and vain. And it is against that, that we find a God who says quite the opposite: That life has purpose, and that every person, no matter how small, matters.

    “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.”

    Most pagans didn’t believe that! Their gods were always cavorting around, destroying human life and significance, seemingly at whim. Because they could. Because they were gods.

    And here we have a God who gives real, humble, tiny human existence a purpose. I think it’s mere faith in this that really defines one’s significance. The harder thing, perhaps, is to not be significant in any way, yet to know that you are loved by God.

    Maybe we’ll remember those soldiers for the things they did, and the purpose they died for. That is fitting. Let us also remember the humble souls who could not find a purpose to die for.

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