"...for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER
FORSAKE YOU," Hebrews 13:5 NASB
This past Tuesday our nation celebrated Veteran's Day. Throughout that day
my mind kept going back over various events that I experienced while I was
in Iraq. There were happy times and sad times, times of celebration and
times of mourning. There were times where we were all crowded together and
then there were times that I felt like the loneliest person in the world.
Being 6,300 miles from those that you love and hold dear can be very
I can remember closing my eyes one time and just trying to
recall how it felt to hold my children or hug my wife. One of my worst days
in Iraq came when it was hard for me to remember what it felt like to hold
them in my arms. I would have given anything to just have been able to hold
my wife and kids. Worship was another area that I began to feel some
intense feelings of loneliness. To my knowledge, I was the only Seventh-day
Adventist on my base. My chaplain was really good about letting me have
Sabbath off, and I would spend time in my room playing my guitar and
studying by myself. Sure, I did some Bible studies, but you can't just give
and give and never be fed yourself; you will end up very empty. So each
Sabbath I would go through my little routine. And while I appreciated
having my Sabbaths off, I became very saddened that did not have anyone to
worship with. This was on top of missing my family and other stressors that
a Soldier in combat must face.
One Sabbath I was feeling especially down and I just knelt and prayed to
God. I begged God to send me someone to worship and study with. I wanted
another Adventist to worship with and that was my prayer. After I finished
I needed to go to my office area and get something I had left in my desk. I
was in my physical training uniform that does not have your name on it
anywhere. While I was in the office retrieving my item I saw an Army
Captain coming toward my door. I also noticed that he was wearing the
chaplain insignia above his name. When he came in I stood to greet him and
see what he needed. As soon as he came through the door he said hello and
he asked me if I was Specialist (SPC) Bentley. With a confused look on my
face I told him I was.
Immediately he gave me the biggest smile I have ever seen and he said, "You are a Seventh-day Adventist aren't you?" I told him I was and when I did he came up and gave me a big hug. He then said that he was so glad to meet me because he too was an Adventist and he had been longing to have someone to worship with. He was stationed at another base where our brigade headquarters was and when he found out I was just north of him he made every effort to come and meet me.
I was totally blown away. Just an hour before that I was knelt down in my room praying for the Lord to send me another Adventist to worship with and this chaplain had left two days prior to get to my base to meet with me. He was on his way to the
Turkish border to meet with troops up there, but he made it a point to stop
off and meet me. I was thrilled that God answered my prayer so quickly.
Not only that, God was busy answering my prayer days in advance of my
asking. What an awesome and wonderful God we serve!
This evening I know that some of you who are reading this may not have been
to church in a long time. There may be some who think that because they
have been gone so long it would be impossible to go back. Others may read
this and wish that they had someone to be with them throughout the week.
Whether or not you fit into any of the categories that I just mentioned I
know that we have each had times in our lives that we felt lonely. My heart
goes out to you just now because I can empathize with you all too well.
However, I firmly believe that God is willing and able to be true to His
promises. When He tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us then
we can count on that to be true. I encourage each of you this evening to be
faithful to God just as He will always be faithful to you. If you have not
been to church in a while make up your mind tonight to change that. The
hardest part is just deciding to do it. Once you get there many people will
be very glad to see you and will welcome you back. For those who are
feeling intense loneliness then fall on your knees and pray that God will
put someone in your life to provide the fellowship that you need. But no
matter what happens I pray that each of us will remember that it is us that
leave Jesus and not the other way around.
Dear Father God,
Please reach down tonight and allow us to feel Your hand of comfort and
care. Please send Your Holy Spirit to speak to each of our hearts and
assure us that You long to be by our side. I pray for those who are
battling loneliness also. When You were on the cross Lord I know that You
too felt lonely when You cried out to Your Father. Thank You for being such
a wonderful Savior and Lord, and I pray that we would all learn to rely
fully upon You in every situation. It is in the name of Christ Jesus we
pray just now, Amen.