This morning in church, we welcomed one of our congregation’s soldiers home from overseas. Everyone stood and applauded to honor him. What a joyous occasion it is when one of our soldiers returns safely home! I am a big patriotic dork, but these kinds of things always bring tears up out of my crusty old heart to sting my wrinkly old eyes.
I can’t put my child to bed without thinking about all the soldiers overseas who do not get to tuck their babies into bed at night. Many of them are missing out on entire seasons of their children’s lives. The magnitude of that sacrifice overwhelms me as I look at my own child snuggled into his tiny bed, drifting off to sleep secure in the knowledge that his mommy and daddy are within the sound of his voice.
Every night since Sean was born, as I have tucked him into bed, I have prayed for our soldiers overseas. And now that Sean is older, he has made this part of his bedtime prayers as well. Together we pray that God will watch over the children whose mommy or daddy is serving in the military far away from home and we ask that He provide them an extra measure of comfort. We pray that God will bring all of our soldiers safely home to their families.
Of course, we know that our prayers will not always be answered in the way we petition. We know that every soldier will not return home to those who love them. And this pains me deeply. I simply don’t understand why a God who can do anything wouldn’t do that.
But we continue our prayers anyway, knowing that sometimes praying does more for the one who prays than the one prayed for, knowing that God is at work in the world in ways we simply do not understand. All I know to do is pray without ceasing as Scripture calls me to do and try to allow my faith to fill in the gaps where there is a dearth of understanding.
And to rejoice with tears and prayers of gratitude for every homecoming.