But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Phil. 3:7 ESV)
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:8–11 ESV).
The oceans, the universe, a newborn child, the love of a parent... Some things are real, yet so incomprehensible they cannot be measured or quantified.
How could we compute the unseen qualities of an Olympic athlete who sacrificed for years to win a gold medal? Who would think they could calibrate the intellectual decision-making processes of a physician who has devoted her life to cancer research?
Does anyone truly grasp the courage and discipline required to experience combat? Even those who have lived through harrowing experiences on the battlefield cannot fully express what they endured.
And what scale could determine the value of "the last full measure of devotion"? 1
Some things are far too precious and profound for mortal man to appreciate.
Such is the case when one dares to peer into the suffering experienced by warriors and the almost unspeakable moments of their deaths.
Number of United States military fatalities in major wars 1775-2021
Since typical measurements are inadequate and often superficial, we look to service records and medals. Yet, can these properly represent the sacrifices of our military men and women?
That which is valuable must be measured, counted, and appraised. What is of more value than the sacrifice made by our defenders and the liberators of the oppressed? We who are entrusted with riches must be diligent to guard, preserve, and invest them wisely. How much more true is this of the priceless sacrifice of our troops?
But how? If the sacrifices are incalculable and inconceivable by mortal man, then how is it possible to treasure, protect, and entrust them to future generations?
While no monument could ever be adequate and no memorial is safe from the advance of years, we must look to those who embodied the highest virtues of courage and sacrifice for our answer.
Look, if you dare, into the faces of those loved ones they left behind and we will find the secret. They all share two inseparable words: "love" and "sacrifice."
It is because of their love for family and freedom our fallen were willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield. And it is our love for family and freedom that ignites within us a willingness to sacrifice.
No, unless we have combat experience or have a family member who died in battle, our "sacrifices" cannot be compared to that which was their "last full measure of devotion" and neither can it compare to the sacrifice made by their loved ones. But still, to even begin to apprehend the value of the invaluable, we must sacrifice.
A moment invested in silence thinking of the deafening roar that was the last sound many heard is a start.
Reading the accounts of the battles and the graphic, unspeakable horrors of war is distasteful, but it will change our outlook on life and put our challenges in perspective.
Stopping to express our respect to our veterans, active-duty military, and their families is a simple sacrifice compared to that which they are making and are willing to make.
Using our freedom in a way that is honorable, respectful, and for the good of others, should be natural for those who realize our warriors did not die to preserve a selfish, unjust, and unkind liberty.
We honor their sacrifice by our sacrifice.
As we choose to remember and honor those who gave their life's blood for our freedom, we would be derelict to not remember and honor God Who sacrificed His Son for us (John 3:16; Ro. 8:32; Acts 2:23).
The life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ is the epitome of love and sacrifice (Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 3:16).
By His resurrection from the dead, Jesus not only offers a life worth living now but also freedom from the grave and freedom to live with Him forever (Ro. 4:25).
So, on Memorial Day and every day, we should honor those who sacrificed for us by using our freedom for God and good (Ro. 13:7; 1 Pt. 2:16).
For those who are willing to turn to Him and surrender their lives, God offers freedom to live a life that counts, both now and forever (Acts 26:20; Lk. 9:23; Jn. 8:36; Jn. 10:28).
Free to serve,
Abraham Lincoln. "The Gettysburg Address," November 19, 1863, http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm
Graph: "Number of United States military fatalities in major wars 1775-2021," U.S. Department of Defense, Battlefield Trust, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1009819/total-us-military-fatalities-in-american-wars-1775-present/