Today, we observe Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the brave men and women who laid down their lives for the preservation of the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States of America.
Our country’s shortcomings, flaws, and sins are real and we must repent of them and continue to work for liberty and justice for all. Even with all of our struggles, I still think America is great, as we have many personal liberties and protections that others long for. Without the sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces and their loved ones, our nation and our world would be less free and less safe.
While some may gather with family or friends for picnics or bar-b-ques today, others are mourning. There are a couple of things I think we all should remember.
The ultimate sacrifice
At his final Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
As our country begins to reopen, our eyes are fixed on a post-pandemic future. Let’s take the opportunity Memorial Day gives us to turn our gaze to the past, remembering those who lost their lives for the sake of our futures.
For decades, men and women of our military have given everything for the welfare of others. Nothing exemplifies the sacrificial love of Jesus quite they do, and God has blessed this nation in an extraordinary way through their actions.
Remember to pray
America has always needed God. But at this time of sickness and social unrest, that truth is more apparent than ever.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian, wrote a book entitled “Democracy in America,” which was published after his extensive travels in our country when it was still young.
He made a statement about the “greatness” of America that bears remembering:
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there...in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there...in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there...in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Our greatness comes from our goodness, and I believe that goodness comes from our faith roots, which we stray from at our own peril.
In Scripture, God instructs us to humble ourselves, pray, seek his presence, and turn our backs on our wicked lives. If we do that, he promises to hear our prayers, forgive our sins, and to restore our land to health. Let’s pray that God would send a great revival to America.
And let’s always pray for our soldiers and for their families and friends, that God would bring them comfort. We also take this moment to renew our commitment to loving and serving our brothers and sisters in this nation. We will continue to defend our values and remember the men and women who made a way for our freedom.
It’s important to remember what God has done for us. In the same way, it’s important to remember the sacrifices of those who have fought for our freedom. Today and every day, we honor the soldiers who laid down their lives and we pray for those they left behind.
Greg Laurie is the pastor and founder of the Harvest churches in California and Hawaii and of Harvest Crusades. He is an evangelist, best-selling author and movie producer. His new book World Changers: How God Uses Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things (Baker Books), releases Sept. 1.