Sgt. Jacob Daniel DeShazer was a crew member in the legendary Doolittle Raiders, a team of 80 brave military servicemen who volunteered to bomb Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. DeShazer was among those captured by the Japanese Army after bailing out of his plane over Japanese-occupied China. He spent 40 months in captivity, 34 months of it in solitary confinement, and was the victim of cruel torture and starvation. In his own words, DeShazer said, “My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy. . .
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Editor’s Note: This posting was originally written for Mother’s Day, 2010, when my son deployed for the first time. But tonight my son is deploying again. So I have taken that writing and made some changes for tonight.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. — Lamentations 3:21-23
When I face some new challenge in my life—even potentially scary—one thing I seek to do is to gain perspective. The ground under me might be shaking, but I’m trying to hang onto something solid . . . something that will help me to make sense of it, help me to remember that I’m not alone, help me to realize that it’s not forever. You know—perspective.
Today I join the ranks of millions of mothers who have gone before me, saying good-by to their sons and sending them off to war. My son is deploying . . . again.
In the past I have seen my brother off to the jungles of southeast Asia—and my husband off to the airfields of the same. Later, good-byes became common during our military career (love those Hellos!) . . . but I had always heard that feelings are different when it is your son leaving. I think that’s true. Actually, I know it’s true. As before, I need perspective.
So here are some of the things that I remember when I try to steady myself with some solid perspective:
1. Our God is sovereign and He is good. The Bible teaches that it is our triune God who rules and whose power is always and ultimately good. Because I love Him, and submit to His plan, I trust Him to love and care for my son in foreign lands. I believe God answers prayer, and we will continue to pray unceasingly throughout this deployment. When I remember this, it helps.
2. The many times my husband and I were geographically separated—during wartime and peace-time, God faithfully provided comfort and strength for us. I can look back at all of the “crises” we endured through those years and can see the hand of God as He guided us through every situation. When I remember this, it helps.
3. I grew emotionally and spiritually the most during the tough times in our marriage—even during deployment. It was during just such a lonely time that I became a Christian! I can’t make this deployment “easy” for our son and his family, but I do know that they will grow in faith as they will lean on God for courage, strength, and endurance. When I remember this, it helps.
4. Our national cause is just. Fighting the global war on terror is necessary, and all of you who are battling the terrorist enemy are providing the hope of security in a very insecure world. Nations are being built . . . freedom established where there was none. Future generations have you to thank for maintaining order in these tumultuous times. When I remember this, it helps.
5. Our military members are well-trained and well-equipped. The last time my son deployed with his unit–this time individually. He is ready. He has prepared his family well for the deployment separation—which is something I really appreciate. When I remember this, it helps.
6. Our son has tremendous support. Their church, base, unit, neighborhood, friends and relatives . . . are all standing by to help he and his precious family in every possible way. He is traveling with a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, and no doubt there will be many more care packages sent by me and others. When I remember this, it helps.
7. Lastly, it helps when I remember that other mothers have been through this in the past . . . and their words encourage me. I particularly enjoy reading the letters written during former wars. A favorite collection of 365 wartime letters is found in Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from The Civil War.
Here are some of the letters or diary entries written by mothers (North and South) in the Civil War:
“ . . . and I fervently implore my God and my Redeemer to protect and save you in the day of battle, and to encourage your heart and hearts of our commander and all of our noble company, and to strengthen your arms for the conflict . . .” p. 158
“ . . . it is a consolation to believe that my sons are in the hands of a merciful God. I hope and pray that they may be permitted to return home, if consistent with the Lord’s will, I pray to God every day in their behalf, it is a trial to me, but I pray that our Country may enjoy peace and be independent.” p. 167
“I think too much of my sorrows and too little of my blessings, truly God has been very kind to me, and though he has sent trials to me, yet how do I know but that if it had not been for them I should never have tested the sweetness of God’s mercy.” p. 275
And I also love this diary entry recorded on Sunday, April 3, 1862, by a private in the 100th Pennsylvania Volunteers. This young man’s mother raised a fine son:
“Slept very little last night, although it continued to rain. Woke about daylight, took up my Bible and read awhile before I got up. I make it a rule to read a portion of scripture every day, although I cannot have any set time; have to be guided by circumstances in a great measure, but always try if possible to read a chapter just before going to sleep. It would be very hard indeed to endure the separation from those that are dear were it not for the consciousness of being in the line of duty, and that God Rules; and that he doeth all things well. Oh how comforting the thought that we have such a God to go to . . .” p. 101
Our family and our nation have much for which to be grateful. When I remember this, it helps—and I have perspective and hope.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” — Psalm 91:1,2
Tuley, Terry, Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from The Civil War (Chattanooga: Living Ink Books, 2006)
Questions to Share:
1.What encourages you during deployment?
2.With your experience, how can you encourage others who are facing deployment?