In 2011, an eleven-year-old named Benjamin Paige wrote the following short story in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The day was still in the dark early hours. Me and the other soldiers trudged through the dirty, compacted snow. The sky ahead of us was saturated with dark plumes of smoke.
What lay ahead of us was obvious. War. We walked up a small incline. We reached the top of the grassy hill and looked down below.
A battlefield in its brutal nature was upon us. Army vehicles had been set ablaze, the sound of gunshots rang out in the distance and the ground was littered with fallen men. Brave men. Men that gave a life to save a life.
I stifled my sorrow. I could hardly imagine receiving ‘the letter’. And how many lives would be impacted? Ruined? Shattered? I stood and thought, rolling in my deep sadness. For minutes, I stood there.
“But,” I thought, “if I were to run into battle, one less family would be destroyed. One more soldier could come home.”
My field of vision was once again on the battlefield.
“And if I die here, I will be remembered.”
And with the knowledge I had gained, I charged down the snowy slope and ran into battle with a single cry…
“I will not be forgotten!”
And with the soldiers by my side, we fought.
In Second Timothy 2:3-4, Paul writes, “Share in the troubles we have like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier wants to please the enlisting officer, so no one serving in the army wastes time with everyday matters.” Paige’s story illustrates three points that can be seen in Paul’s statement.
First, a soldier works with other soldiers. Paige wrote about soldiers walking together with a shared destination: the battlefield. They would fight together against the same enemy. They would not abandon or turn against each other. In the same way, Paul tells Timothy to “share in the troubles we have.” All Christians are fighting against the same enemy: Satan. We are not on our own in this fight. There is an entire army working against him.
Second, a soldier will endure hardship. Just as Paige notes the “brutal nature” of physical war, there is suffering in spiritual warfare. This destitution is promised, and we must face it bravely. The soldier’s desire is to please their commanding officers, and this is done by entering battle.
Third, a soldier is detached from the rest of the world. The soldier in Paige’s story has a single focus: to serve his country in battle. He momentarily considers life outside of war, and he longs for the safe life at home. Yet, he quickly leaves these thoughts to face the battlefield. He enters the fight with a mind free of any thoughts other than helping his country gain victory. The Christian’s country, the country that we serve, is heaven. When we engage in spiritual warfare, we focus on eternal goals, not mundane earthly matters.
When you are spiritually attacked, you must fight as a spiritual soldier. Arm yourself now with the Sword of the Spirit and prepare for hardship. The temporary attack will come, but keep your focus on eternity and the victory that Christ gives.