We received a text recently from friends who are well-known marriage conference speakers, wanting help with an upcoming talk to a group which will include Marines. They specifically wanted to know how we advise military couples on sexual intimacy, given that much of their time is spent geographically separated because of deployment.
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Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. — Matthew 5:3,4
In just about every artistic rendering of a soldier’s homecoming, be it a song, a movie or a television commercial, we are left with an emotional high that tells us all is well again. But if military wives assume their reunion with their husbands is a fairytale ending to their separation, disappointment is almost sure to set in.
“I have seen way too many military wives build up a fantasy in their minds about what life will be like once their husbands are home—and then be destroyed when this fantasy was not a reality,” says National Guard wife Mary Whitlock. Mary says the hardest part of war wasn’t her husband’s deployment; it was when he first came home. His multiple concussions, exposure to constant combat and chlorine gas resulted in loss of short-term memory and an extremely heightened sense of anxiety which resulted in frustration and anger.
When author (Hope for the Home Front) and Navy SEAL wife Marshele Carter Waddell’s husband returned from Iraq with only a broken leg, she praised God for his safety. “Now, months later, I sense that his leg is the least of our concerns,” she says. “He is healing outwardly, but his soul walks with a limp.”
As Marshele’s husband goes through War’s aftermath—the invisible wounds of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—she and her children used to have little more than patience, devotion, and hope in their arsenal to help him win this battle on his home turf. She describes the experience this way:
“Life tries to return to what it was before, but can’t. He fights against the relentless surf trying to move back to the sandy, safe shore but is drifting further . . . . swept out by a current of guilt, memories too painful to speak, questions too difficult to ask, the suffocating guilt of watching others die when he lived instead, the helplessness of not being able to save a friend, the naked ache of being so far from home, from love, from security, living in a dusty hell under fire at all times, fighting for what seemed an ungrateful and divided nation.”
But since then, Marshele has teamed with others from Cru Military to write a new book which addresses the feelings and concerns of wives of PTSD sufferers. When War Comes Home is a helpful manual—a powerful gift to those who are facing despair and want to recover hope for their marriages and their lives. It followed the publication of the popular book The Combat Trauma Healing Manual, published by Cru Military (formerly Military Ministry) in 2007. Both of these valuable books are for sale online from CruMilitary.org.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: . . . . A time to kill, and a time to heal . . . .” And Who is the Healer? In the Old Testament, God was also called “the Lord Who Heals.” One of Jesus’ many names in the Bible is “Physician,” a name well-suited for one who performed so many healing miracles on both the physical and spiritual levels. While God works through modern medicine and counseling to heal the war’s injuries of body and mind, we can also entrust the healing process directly to Him, the Author of Life itself. As we pray for healing for our spouses, we can also be praying for large doses of patience for ourselves.
Prayer written by Marshele Carter Waddell: “Lord, I cannot see the wounds caused by my husband’s war-zone experiences; but, You can see them. Only You can heal him. Help me to come to You and to trust You to intercede for us when I cannot find the words. I ask for prayer partners who will remember to pray for us, come what may. I need someone to talk with, Lord, someone who has dealt with this before. Please provide Godly counsel and direction.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Questions to Share:
1. Have you thought of God as a healer? In what ways can you remember Him healing you from hurts, fears, and discouragement?
2. How can you help each other recover from the wounds of war—whether they be emotional or physical?
Jocelyn Green is an award-winning freelance writer and author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (www.faithdeployed.com), from which this devotional was reposted (and updated) with permission from Moody Publishers. She is also the co-author of Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan. She and her husband Rob live with their two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.