December 6, 2014
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3
Four of the nine living survivors the USS Arizona are gathered in Hawaii this week, set to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On Sunday, the actual 73rd anniversary of that “day of infamy,” they’ll toast their shipmates with a bottle of sparkling wine given to their survivors’ association in 1975 by President Gerald Ford from the White House wine collection, reports Stars and Stripes. It’s likely this will be the last official reunion in the islands, since the men are all in their nineties.
The Arizona sank during the massive attack that brought the U.S. into World War II, and 1,177 sailors died that day. Many of the bodies remain entombed in the vessel, and 38 survivors chose it as the final resting place for their cremated remains. The ship is now part of the National Park Service’s World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.
One of the survivors at this reunion, Donald Stratton, was burned over 65 percent of his body. He spent a year in recovery and rehab, and then was medically discharged. But he re-enlisted and went on to serve in the South Pacific until war’s end.
Scripture often uses the analogy of soldiering and fighting to describe the Christian life, especially in 2 Timothy. Like Mr. Stratton, who felt so strongly in the cause for which he fought that he signed on again despite grave injuries, Christians have a “holy calling, not according to our works, but according to God’s own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus” (1:9, 10). Christians—like good soldiers—are commended to be single-minded (2:3, 4) and disciplined (2:6-10) in their crusade to serve the Lord.
Soldiers never know what will happen when they go to war—injury, death and defeat are always possible. Very few escape unscathed in some way. Same in civilian life. But no matter where we do battle, we have a Commander who fights alongside us (2 Chronicles 20:15; Psalm 16:8, 9), and He guarantees victory when we stick with Him: “It is a trustworthy statement: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).