What our heroes taught us: A reflection on D-Day

This is it. The moment you have dreaded your whole life. Your almost-certain death.

Not just any death, either. A death of immense pain, fear and panic. This is the kind of moment where second-guessing isn’t an option, and moving toward it is the only way to potentially escape. And so you move forward, toward the shore and the enemy with nothing behind you but the sea.

While this moment may just be words on a screen for you, it was reality for our men who fought during the D-Day Invasion 73 years ago. They didn’t have to wonder how they would respond in life-threatening danger. They lived it.

Their courage was extraordinary, but what stands out even more is how these ordinary men put aside their fears for what they believed in, and they gave up their families and their lives as proof. This day in our history, which many call the beginning of the end of Hitler and World War II, points to how we cannot allow fear to steal our courage to act.

What makes them heroes

The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy knew what they believed in and why they fought. They knew the truth behind the horror of war, yet they held freedom for all people worth the battle. Even if the thousands of people for whom they gave their lives never knew their names.

We look at these military men and think how brave they must’ve been, how heroic their characters were. But we miss the point of realizing that it wasn’t only the action of fighting for us that made them our heroes. It was also the fact that they knew the truth and stood up for it, no matter the cost.

Our heroes were ordinary men who didn’t shy away from the truth of the war. While their families remained home, they knew the reality that evil was rising and taking captives could not be ignored. And so they fought against that evil, unwilling to remain silent.

Fight or flight 

What can we learn from these men who fought 73 years ago? How do we take this history and allow it to change our ordinary routine?

By learning how to stand up for the truth in our day-to-day and not backing down when evil threatens to overpower us.

We are all soldiers. We all have the duty to take a stand against evil. Just as the men fighting against Hitler couldn’t stand idle while people were tortured and killed, we cannot expect pastors and missionaries to do all the preaching and proclaiming of the gospel.   

We go to church, read our Bibles, talk to friends about Jesus. Yet when it comes down to fight or flight in defending our faith, many of us choose flight. We choose to remain silent because it’s easier than offending or getting hurt. We choose to believe the battle isn’t right in front of us, breathing down or necks.

If our heroes had only heard about the horrors of war and felt pain and sadness in their hearts because of it, but chose to stay where they were instead of doing something about it, D-Day might have looked vastly different. If they had completed their training and knew how to effectively fight, but just stood in the midst of battle, pretending to not notice the bullets flying overhead, they would have instantly crumpled under fire. And their inability to attack and defend most likely would’ve cost the lives of some of their comrades as well.

The reason these men could stand and fight in the midst of a nightmare was because they knew the risk of injury or death didn’t compare with defending freedom. And with similar mindsets, we must stand for our God and our faith. We cannot allow the fear of rejection or persecution to cause us to freeze in fear. We must acknowledge our Father before men and don God’s armor, ready for any attack.  

Worth fighting

There is a war happening in our midst. Not among flesh and blood, but among the spiritual forces. Yes, in our fallen world there will always be war among men. But the underlying cause of such tragedies is the prince of the air stirring hatred among us. The devil and his henchmen are continually looking for ways to own the souls of men not yet saved by Jesus. They are also fighting for ways to conflict, distract and destroy in an earthly way those of us who are covered in our Savior’s sacrifice.

Standing silent in the midst of this battle must sadden our Creator. We are His army on earth, and our main purpose is to spread His Name. For some of us, the reason we don’t proclaim the gospel isn’t because we need more courage. It’s because we lack the conviction that this battle is worth fighting. That each day truly could be the difference between death and life. Or maybe we don’t think it’s worth it because there’s no way we could actually make a difference.  

As the men who fought June 6, 1944, show us, the amount of courage or experience we have in the midst of war makes little difference. What will set us apart in this battle is embracing the truth that defending our faith, telling others about Christ and living in a way that exemplifies the gospel is worth any earthly pain or rejection.

Stand and defend. Take pride in your faith, in your Jesus. Admit the seriousness of the battle around you. There isn’t time to simply feel sorrow for those who don’t have hope in Christ. There are no excuses to not proclaim His Name when shots are fired.

If you truly know and believe in what you are fighting for, you will understand the trials of this world are momentary. You will understand how nothing can compare to the moment when you will stand before God, knowing you did all you could to spread His truth and glorify His Name, no matter the cost.  

Let’s Talk About It: How will fight in this spiritual battle? What are ways you can spread truth? 

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