We have been a military family for more than a decade. When our oldest son chose to enroll in a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, we were not worried. His scholarship was generous, and our country was not at war. We were proud of our young United States Marine Corps officer. Not too much later, our daughter enlisted in the US Army, and shortly thereafter her new husband enlisted, too. Soon, as a family, we were facing overseas deployments, and the names of war zones and regions of Afghanistan and Iraq rolled off our tongues quite easily.
Our thoughts and prayers have gone out not only to our Marines son and Army son-in-law during their multiple deployments, but also to all the families and soldiers who are serving in these dangerous areas. Soon our family will support our son again as he faces his second tour in Afghanistan.
A friend asked me the other day, “How do we pray for these family members who are in harm’s way?” I immediately thought about my prayers for our son as he went into one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan last year. The Bible’s comforting psalms were always my first place for solace, especially Psalm 139, which reads in part: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” (Verses 7, 8).
Praying this prayer, I felt God’s care enveloping me and my son. When I would awake at night wanting to pray for the safety of my son and his fellow soldiers, this psalm always came back to me. I rested quietly and calmly, knowing those marines halfway around the world were feeling God’s care and love for them.
Our son was able to maintain fairly good contact with us during this time through e-mail and even text messages. One particular time, as an officer, he and his troops were going out into a very insecure area on convoy maneuvers. Our son texted us that they were “going out beyond the wire” and asked if my husband and I would pray for them until he sent us an “all clear” message. It was a call for calmness and clear thinking on our part, and we welcomed the opportunity to stay with our troops in a watchful, helpful manner.
I thought about Mary Baker Eddy’s guidance in the Christian Science textbook: “When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 254). This idea seemed so perfect for a military convoy and for security forces that needed special guidance to see and do the right thing. We continued in prayer along these lines until we heard again from our son. He informed us that most of his soldiers were back but that about seven of them still needed to return to base camp. Our prayers continued for them all, and a line from the “Christian Science Hymnal” stayed with us: “Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight” (Mary Baker Eddy, No. 207).
I thought about all those marines as protected, loved, and enfolded in my family, our family of all God’s children, beloved and cherished. Soon we received a message from our son that everyone had returned safely.
As we prepare to bid our son safe journey again, back into the dangerous zones of Afghanistan, we will do this with the confidence and assurance of God’s care for all His sons and daughters. While we are grateful for the increased armament and equipment that our son’s troops have these days, we are also confident that they, and all members of the military services, are going out armed with the best equipment possible: God’s infinite love and the shield of His presence.