• Today's Daily Devotion
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Several weeks during April and early May 2004 can best be described as “The Ecstasy and the Agony.” The ecstasy came from the hope and joy experienced in ...

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Chaplain Col. Gene (Chip) Fowler, U.S. Army, Command Chaplain for Combined Joint Task Force 7

Several weeks during April and early May 2004 can best be described as “The Ecstasy and the Agony.” The ecstasy came from the hope and joy experienced in remembering the central event of all history—the death and resurrection of the Lord of the Universe. On Easter Sunday morning, we had an absolutely marvelous Sunrise Service with so many people we could not count them.

The agony came from the senseless and sadistic murder of the four civilian contractors in Fallujah on March 31, and the heinous desecration of their mutilated bodies.

The ecstasy came from soldiers and civilians growing deeper in their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.

The agony came from the attack on the convoy north of Baghdad where several were killed, and Tom Hamill was kidnapped and held hostage for three weeks.

The ecstasy came from his escape and reunion with his family.

The agony came from the highest total of soldiers killed and wounded in any month since the start of the conflict.

The ecstasy came from a wonderful and dynamic National Prayer Breakfast at Taji where soldiers and civilians gathered to ask God’s blessings on our nation.

The agony came from the horrid rocket attack at that same base a couple of weeks earlier that took four lives, including a reserve captain whose civilian job was as a youth minister. As he lay there dying, he looked at individual soldiers saying, “Joe, I didn’t see you at chapel Sunday; you know you need to go. Bob, I missed you at Bible Study.”

How does one deal with these ecstasies and agonies? Being able to handle the issues of life and death in the context of the eternal is the challenge. It is the work of chaplains and their assistants, and those whom they empower with a living faith. They take care of soldiers with selfless concern, imputing God’s love and grace into the most difficult of situations. And then they take care of each other. May God continue to provide such servants to the military forces of our nation, nurturing their faith, strengthening their moral resolve, and lifting their souls toward heaven.

Prayer:

Lord, may my trials strengthen my faith instead of compel me to doubt.


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