5 Biblical Encouragements for Memorial Day
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs
While many celebrate Memorial Day weekend with barbeques or swimming, the origin of the American holiday holds a special meaning. Memorial Day became an official national holiday in 1971, though its origins can be traced to events honoring the dead following the U.S. Civil War.
Today, Memorial Day commemorates American armed forces personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice—giving their lives in service to their nation. Though Memorial Day became a holiday long after the Bible’s composition, Scripture offers five important principles of encouragement.
We Are Called to Give Our Lives to Serve Others
1 John 3:16 notes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Memorial Day offers a powerful reminder of the service many of our armed forces personnel have given.
The apostle Paul also taught believers to, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7). Many soldiers have operated with this attitude of serving God and country, knowing their commitment is ultimately to the Lord.
We Are Called to Remember Those Who Have Gone Before Us
Hebrews 11:4 notes, “And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Those who have gone before us continue to speak to us in various ways. Our fallen soldiers clearly speak regarding the importance of serving others.
As many of us enjoy an extended weekend, we should also make time to reflect on those who have helped provide the peace and security we experience. Despite numerous conflicts worldwide, extreme poverty, and other hardships, we have been blessed with a democratic society and religious freedom with much abundance.
Our nation is far from perfect, yet is filled with blessings beyond what many experience elsewhere. We have both God and those who have given their lives in service to our nation to thank.
We Are Called to Help Those Who Remain
The family members of fallen soldiers serve too. However, their sacrifice is often silent, left with the painful memories of a lost spouse, child, or parent who has served our nation. We must remember both those who have given their lives and those who remain.
Romans 12:15 teaches believers to “mourn with those who mourn.” We must not forget those who have lost loved ones in service to our country. Instead, we can seek ways to encourage, support, honor, and care for the family members of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
We Are Called to Pray for Those Who Serve Today
Believers are called to pray for others, including our governing leaders and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4). In the Old Testament, God’s people often offered specific prayers for those entering warfare, seeking God’s protection and blessing.
Psalm 91 offers a poetic prayer applicable to armed forces personnel and those who pray on their behalf. We are reminded the Lord “is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust” (v. 2). We are not to “fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day” (v. 5). We can trust that God will look upon those who call to Him and “be with him in trouble” (v. 15).
We Are Called to Reach Those Who Serve (and Their Family Members)
The Great Commission calls believers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). The word translated “nations” is the Greek ethnosspecifically referring to people groups. In this sense, military personnel comprise a distinct people group and mission field we are called to serve.
One way our ministry offers assistance to U.S. armed forces personnel and veterans is through our partnership with Faith Comes By Hearing. Through the gift of a Military BibleStick, a soldier can listen to an audio Bible while serving our country. Many testimonies have resulted from troops who have listened to Scripture and have come to faith in Jesus or grown spiritually through this tool.
The following video offers powerful footage of the impact we can have. You can discover more about this ministry tool at jashow.org. May we never forget the service of those who have given their lives for our nation.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.