Comfort one another,
give hope and
encouragement in the Lord that one day we will be together again here on earth or in Heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Daily pray for our soldiers, their families and our leaders.  Your prayers do make a difference.
A Comfort in the Time of War
By Cher Wandell  
Parts 1-3              
During a time of war, the challenges of those in the service seem greater than usual.  Families are driven to the brink by a spouse`s willingness to serve our country.  In these trying times, we need to be more aware of what our service men and women are facing.  We need to extend a welcoming hand to those at home, while the “other half” is on active duty.
Exactly what things or feelings are these families experiencing?  How can we give aid and counsel?  Perhaps you never thought that you could give Christian counseling and be of help, but according to God`s Word, we are to do just that.  God`s Word is the best counsel anyone can give.
What types of emotions are associated with families in the military?  They feel the same emotions as everyone else.  Maybe you never thought of these families as being in a traumatic situation and experiencing trauma.  Our military families deal with trauma every day of their lives, and especially when we are at war.  
Some frequently asked questions are: “What signs should we look for and how can we help?”  Here are a few common factors:
When families are torn apart, a multitude of emotions arise.  However, when in the case of deployment, the stakes are much greater and more is to be considered.  The fear of the unknown and the outcome of their own circumstances are in the forefront of every thought.
Questions like, “What will I do if something happens?”…“Can I make it alone with the children?”…“How much danger is my spouse facing?”  These are real “fears” and have to be dealt with on a daily basis.
Knowing the scriptures does help, but having them in your thoughts when the fear crops up is another thing.  This is where spiritual maturity is important, and surrounding yourself with those who will only speak the Word of God is vital to overcoming fear.  We need to be able to remember the scripture and put it into practice when fear tries to show itself.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power,
and of love, and of a sound mind!” 2 Timothy 1:7(KJV)
*God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid
but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”  
Sending our soldiers out to war disrupts the normal functioning of a household, especially for those remaining at home.  Feelings of insecurity, worry and unfaithfulness emerge on both sides of the marriage or relationship.  The relationship becomes vulnerable to the world if left unprotected by prayer and loved ones.
“Be anxious or careful for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6-9)
* “Worry is a heavy load, but a kind word cheers you up.” (Proverbs 12:25)
"Therefore encourage one another, building each other up, as in fact you do."
1 Thess. 5:11
"So speak encouraging words to one another.  
Build up hope so you'll be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.
I know you're already doing this; just keep doing it."
1 Thess. 5:11
The Message Bible
Ask Jesus into your heart today.   Salvation Prayer
No matter how stable a marriage or relationship is, trying to cope with half a partner is hard.  Many activities are couple or family oriented, and doing them alone is overwhelming for a suddenly single person.  
Filling the time that you spent previously with a partner can be exhausting, because of the thoughts that crop up in the mind.  Even good thoughts can leave a person feeling lonely and abandoned.  It is a real challenge to think only of good thoughts and to stay upbeat when you are alone.  
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
*Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.  Do what you learned and received from me, what I have told you, and what you saw me do, and the God who gives peace will be with you.”
You may think that anger would be the first thing that occurs in all these “feelings”, but it isn`t.  Generally, anger is a result of all the other things combined and gives a voice when the person feels helpless or backed into a corner.
The longer the separation in the relationship, the more dramatic and powerful anger can be.  It becomes a driving negative force, and is quite destructive.  A partner may feel anger toward the military for taking away the security in a relationship.  Anger can also be directed toward the person who is in active duty, because the other half feels that the military comes before their relationship.
A real source of pain is facing holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. alone, and knowing that these events can never be lived again or made up.
Often when families are made aware of all the challenges facing them is when deployment actually comes.  This is where Christians need to band together a put a hedge of protection around the families in prayer, emotional and physical support.  We need to help fill the void and stand in the gap for all those involved.  This can be done for those home and away.  Believers need to seek out other believers, Pastors, Christian counselors and friends to help those involved deal with the events that each day will bring.  No believer should have to go through these trials alone.  It is our responsibility to make sure that they don`t.
What can I do as a soldier or partner?
How can we help as Christians?
Before a spouse or partner leaves for active duty, families should have an emergency plan for childcare and other relatives they are responsible for taking care of on a regular basis.  Don`t leave this matter in the hands of the government or unbelievers; they cannot give you the best advice your family needs.
Financial and legal records should be discussed, and the spouses should know where all these items are and have full access to them.  If possible, set up an emergency account where only one signature is needed so funds can be accessed if regular monies are held up for any reason.  This has been a real issue for women trying to maintain a household while waiting for money to come.
Both parties should understand how the family budget works to eliminate added stress when those at home have to deal with the bills and expenses.
It is wise for the family to be able to maintain the same schedules whenever possible to provide a sense of “normalcy” at home and for the children.
· When possible, buy items in bulk before deployment.  This will help take some of the pressure off while waiting for other money to be sent home.
· Make doctors or dentist appointments for the entire family before being called to duty to cut down on over scheduling.  This is important especially for the first weeks the spouse is responsible for all the activities in the household, and it helps take care of any expenses that occur before funds are limited.
· Make sure all insurances are current.
· Leave a list of special accounts such as loans, banking or stocks (etc.), social security information, dental/medical reports, security systems, any household electrical devices or maintenance schedules.
· Have all tax information ready for accountant or spouse.
These things should already be a part of your routine, but if they aren`t, start doing them now.  Our country doesn`t have to be at war in order for us to be good caregivers of our families.
Emotional Health:
Emotional health is something that both parties have to deal with daily.  A good relationship needs to have balance in this area.  Christian support systems can be a big help when separation finally occurs.  Neither partner should be left alone for a long period of time.  Groups around the family can offer assistance in daily matters to help the initial “send off” go more smoothly.  The one leaving will also feel more secure knowing that their partner has people to help them on a regular basis.
· Be a good listener.  Take notice of the things that need to be done.  See what events or appointments need more then one person to accomplish, and run some errands when possible.  Parents with children often have sporting events and practices they need to run here and there to.  Dentist appointments, parent-teacher conferences, etc. are things that usually require maintaining a good schedule in order to pull them off.  Offer to take a child to practice or a game, and then stay with them through the event.  This will help the child to feel more secure and not abandoned.
· Invite the spouse and children to events in your church or community; it may help “combat” their own loneliness.  Remember, they are also in a form of battle.
· Encourage the family and/or spouse to be honest about their feelings, and to seek help when they need it.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, unselfishness and maturity.  We are not designed to handle everything by ourselves, and shouldn`t feel we have failed when seeking counsel.  Don`t let pride set in; being prideful won`t help the family.  Many times a bit of encouragement is all that is needed to help pull someone out of a depression or feeling overwhelmed in a situation.
*“Pride only leads to arguments, but those who take advice are wise.” Proverbs 13:10
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit leads to a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
· Community support lets the family know that the separation is vital and necessary to the countries security.  It helps those at home feel that their spouse is loved and missed by others as well as their own family.  It also reminds us all of how honored we are to have such brave people in our lives.
· Help set up a form of daily/weekly communication for the couple before they are separated.  Soldiers hope to receive messages from their loved ones, but often times they come too few and far between.  Help our service men and women feel loved and supported by organizing a schedule for them to receive a message from home regularly.  Letters and cards are great, but hearing the voices of their family and friends is even better.   Today`s technology allows us to do marvelous things.  Take advantage of it by sending cassettes or videos of sermons, uplifting messages by using recording machines or the computer.  We are blessed that today`s military have the ability to email and receive messages on a regular basis.  
· Care packages are great, but they need to be geared toward the individual.  Find out more about the person and send the things that would bring them comfort, not what you think would be comforting.  Be sure to include items that can be shared among the soldiers in his or her troop.  You would be surprised to see how many faces are uplifted by an unexpected package from home or from a total stranger.  These things are “faith boosters” for all parties involved.
· Other things that can help to close the gap in the distance of miles, are things the couple can do that brings a form of intimacy into the relationship even though they are not together.
1. Try setting up a time where (you) the couple can both look up to Heaven and pray Psalm 91 over one another.  “Where two or more are gathered in My name there am I in the middle to support their prayer.”  (Matthew 18:20) There is no distance when it comes to prayer.  Praying for one another at the same time is a prayer of agreement as Matthew 18:18-20 states, and provides a protective hedge around the other.  
2. Both parties can read a particular passage of scripture for a time of daily devotions.
3. Sing to one another a special song at a certain time.
4. Tell a funny story to your partner and laugh as if they were there.
5. Share daily events with your partner by email before retiring to bed (even if they haven`t been able to respond).
6. Think of your favorite times together (without the children) and places you have traveled.  Write them down and mail them to one another. See if you covered the same events.  It`s great to see what things you have both cherished as your greatest times together.  
7. Save (print) all your emails and letters and put them in a scrapbook for when you are together again.  
8. Take lots of pictures and videos of events missed your partner has missed.  Have a special events video or photo party with friends and family when your spouse has returned.  Make it a special day, and don`t try to recapture the past (it could trigger some emotions that you were not expecting).
9.  Write down the first thing you want to do together (no kids!) when you are reunited, and be sure to do it when you are reunited.
10. Start a blessing book.  Each day record 5 things you are grateful for or blessed by knowing your partner.
These are only a few things, but they do work and help the love of one another to grow stronger.
Part 3 of 3
Spiritual Health:
Spiritual health is the most important part of surviving a war, whether you are in battle or not.  Families need to prepare spiritually as well as physically for the events that may take place before, during and months after the war has ended.  We are to be spiritually ready, but in most cases, that is the last thing we think about.
Before deployment, write down all the situations that you may encounter.   Look at those that went into battle in the Bible.  How did they prepare?  Did being prepared help them in their victory?   God never sends us out into this world without the tools necessary to win the battle.  We need to gather our tools, and take them into battle with us.  Having on the Armor of God and His Word will help us in whatever situation we encounter.
There may be those who disagree with writing down possible situations, and think that it is “bad luck”.  Well, first of all let me tell you that there is no such thing as luck or fate.  God is in control of all things whether we want to accept it or not.  He knows what will happen before it does, and that is why He provided His Word.  
Having the “situations” written down, we need to look up the scripture that will cause us to be victorious over that area. I`m not talking about being gory.  Don`t speak the negative, but the positive.  Reality dictates that you will need to make decisions over some things while you are apart from one another.  Write down the answer to what God says about the things that you will need.  If your family suddenly needs to pray healing over one another, verses like “Jesus wept” aren`t going to bring you answers.  However, let`s say your partner is in a country where some of the food they eat may be contaminated, what would you pray?  “Lord, I thank you that any deadly thing that I eat or drink will not harm me.” (Mark 16:17-18)  You have to know which verse to use for each situation.  Calling out “Josiah was eight years old when he became king” in the middle of bullets firing is the wrong verse.  “No weapon formed against me will prosper…” (Isaiah 54:17) is the type of verse you need to call out and believe whether you are in battle or a bill collector is tormenting your family.  You can`t guess at it or hope God gets what you mean.  Use the concordance in your Bible to help you find the verses you need.  You will hit the target by speaking the correct words over the problem.
When Joshua was preparing for battle, he had the entire army prepare in advance.  He didn`t do it alone.  Everyone was in agreement when they went to battle, and they came out winners.  
Make copies of the scriptures for both partners, and go into prayer agreeing that every situation that arises has a victorious outcome.  Keep a copy with you wherever you go.  (It`s easier to carry a few pieces of paper around then an entire Bible.)  Have the entire house (including children or other members living with you) agree in prayer.  Joshua`s entire house was in agreement, and they knew that God would (not could or might) deliver them in battle.
A Final note…
Sure it`s easy to sit back and say these things and hope that all will be fine.  It`s hard to actually do something and follow through with your decision no matter what happens.  You may not have a member of your family in active duty right now, or even know anyone who is.  However, you can still do something.  Pray! Pray! Pray!  And then pray some more!
Fellow believers, there is much we can do to help our military. However, one thing that we must not do is to pass judgment on those who may not be walking in the way of the Lord even though they may profess to be a Christian.  It is a known fact that not every family that prays attends church or believes the same way.  Our responsibility is to pray for one another and support those in need, not drive them away with “traditional or religious” thinking.  Jesus said that these things divide the church, not bring us together.  We are drawn together by our faith in Jesus, not our “doctrine.”
We can look to the Word of God and see how Jesus handled each situation.  He prayed, gave assistance when needed, healed the sick, uplifted the broken hearted and stood in the gap for our sins.  Jesus never grabbed anyone by the scruff of their neck and told them they had to come to church before He would help them.  Through love Jesus helped the lost and hurting.  Daily He prayed, and by example they, in turn, followed Him.
Encourage others in the Lord.  Share with them that Jesus is the God of Peace (Jehovah-Shalom).  He is also the provider of all things we need (Jehovah-Jirah).  This is a time of renewing in the Lord and drawing closer to Him.  Often during times of trial and tribulation or separation from loved ones, we are given an opportunity for spiritual growth.  We need to be there providing good, godly counseling and spiritual materials to help the growth manifest.
War is real and can be a disaster in more than a structural or physical way.  However, it doesn`t have to be if we first and always rely on God, prepare in the natural way for our families, and give support to those in need.  Be willing to help others, and give God the glory for His mercy endures forever!
Send this article on to someone else (especially if you know a person serving in the war).  We would also like to hear from you.  Email us with your comments, prayer requests and praise reports.  
*(NCVYB) New Century Version Youth Bible
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