May 25 was Memorial Day in the USA. Memorial Day has a different meaning for different people. For some it is part of a long weekend, when you have an extra day to take a rest from the busyness of daily life. For others it is the unofficial start of the summer season, after going through a long, hard, cold winter.There’s nothing wrong with any of that, as long as we don’t forget the real meaning and purpose of Memorial Day. It is the day we honor and remember those who gave their lives for God and country . Those who died while serving as members of the armed forces of the USA. Of course, we can do that any day and every day, but we need this one day a year to be reminded that “freedom isn’t free”. The freedom we have in the USA has been bought and paid for with their lives.
As we experience Memorial Day as a day of remembering and honoring them, it is a day of tinged with sadness and sorrow. We are reminded of the loss of loved ones who died in military service – parents, children, other family members and beloved friends. We have no hope of experiencing their physical presence with us as we go through the rest of our lives in this world. We will never know what they might have become or accomplished if they had not died so young.
When we realize how much we have lost due to their absence, Memorial Day can be experienced as a day of bad news and hopelessness. But in the midst of this bad news there is a good news. In the midst of feeling hopeless, there is hope. I know and believe this for at least three reasons.
1. While we can no longer experience their physical presence, we can experience their spiritual presence through the God-given gift of memory. Through old photos, movies, letters, and other artifacts, and as we talk about them with each other, we can experience the presence of their spirit. We can talk to them. And we can even hear them talking to us. Not in the form of actual sound, but in our minds. And some of us are fortunate enough to have actual sound recordings of their voices speaking to us from the past.
2. We can take comfort in our awareness that in some way they are now living in that place which Jesus told his first disciples that he was going to prepare for them. The place we call heaven. I can’t describe what heaven looks like, or where it is, or exactly what’s going on there. However, I am convinced that our loved ones, whose lives in this world ended too soon, are alive and well in that place. They no longer experience the bad news that we all face to some extent in life in this world. My faith in God leads me to believe that God is not only a God of love, but is love personified.Therefore, I believe that our loved ones are experiencing nothing but love, peace, and joy eternally. That means for a long time. That means forever. And that is good news.
3. Finally, I believe that the time will come when we leave this world, however that happens, and we will join our loved ones. I can’t describe what they and we will look like or sound like. The only thing I can say is that God has arranged it so that we will know each other and be able to communicate with each other. We will experience each other. We will experience what John Wesley, the founder of Methodism called “perfection in love”. We will be living with our loved ones as we all experience the presence of God.
Based upon my personal experience, I can tell you that on Memorial Day, I can’t avoid some feelings of sadness and sorrow. But at the same time, through faith in the one and only true God, I celebrate Memorial Day as a day of good news in the midst of bad news. Hope where there seems to be no hope. Hope for those who paid the price for freedom in the USA. Hope for those of us who continue to live in a world filled with bad new and hopelessness, and hope for the United States of America. I believe that God has and will fulfill all of these hopes, in his time and his way.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
Patty Perez and Ray Gough
We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com
We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this web-site:
A Spiritual Autobiography
How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes
of an ordinary guy from Jersey City