How to Help Military Families Thrive

August 16th, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Don’t say it! I know what’s coming… “I just don’t know how you do it.”  This is most people’s response to the wild life of the military family.  So, I’ll answer that one first. You see, there’s this guy. He is God, and there is nothing normal or controllable about Him.  When you really get involved with Him, your life gets a little…a lot crazy and a lot wonderful.

Have you ever heard that God won’t give you more than you can handle?  Actually, He only promises that about temptation, not hardship (1 Cor. 10:13).  In fact, I find that He often does give more than I can handle.  It is because He is not expecting me to look inside myself for strength. He wants me to draw from the strength found in Him.  I think that’s what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4.  He had been put in every type of circumstance, and he didn’t come to the conclusion that he had all the strength he needed. (With all those changing circumstances, I think Paul would have been excellent in the military!). He found that he could do all things through “Him who gives me strength.”

You see, this is meant to be the reality for everyone reading these words.  I actually think that those of you who are able to live a “normal” life actually have it a little harder.  You are as desperate and needy for the Lord as we are, but the changes and challenges of the military can make us much more aware of our need for our Unchanging One.

I know I am supposed to offer you advice on ministering to the military, but there’s no way to do that without first telling you that all our peace and provision is from Jesus.  There are many in the military who do not understand this.  So the most important work you can do for your military is not in the physical realm of this world. Engage in the spiritual. Do the Kingdom’s work – pray for us!

As you pray, specifically I ask you to intercede for our children.  The enemy desires our (and your) children.  Ask the Father to set our children apart for Himself.  Ask Him to show us how to train our children to find security in JESUS. Pray that as mothers we would know how to keep Daddy central in our home even when he is away.

Many of our warrior-hearted men deal with deep wounds when they return from combat-related deployments.  Pray that God would heal their hearts and give them understanding to deal with what they have seen and done.  This is an area where many wives feel helpless. Ask the Lord to help us know how to love them well and give them space to deal with these deep matters without pressuring them to be the same man they were before.  In the Marine Corps, more than 75 percent of marriages end in divorce.  This is devastating.  Please intercede for our marriages!

In addition to the foundational work of prayer, there are other ways you can reach out to military families.  To do this effectively, though, let me encourage you not to think of us in the vast, general sense.  Minister to the specific military family God has positioned in your life.  Invest in them. Share your lives with them.  Welcome them into your home.

I urge you beautifully seasoned older women in the Lord to reach out to the young wives and mothers.  Many of these young women are raising their children far away from their mothers and grandmothers. They are learning to parent by watching other very young mothers.  They need the counsel and training that you can give.

Finally, when our men come home from war, be ready to extend grace, patience and forgiveness. Many wrestle with a great deal of turmoil.  I have consistently seen the most godly, gracious men deal with a lot of anger after returning from war.   They need time and space to work through these things.  They tend to step back from church activities, large groups and even friendships.  I encourage you to let them do this without pressure or judgment.  In time, God will heal these things as we encourage, pray and wait.

No one can escape the pain and uncertainty that results from living in this world. So let me challenge you to live the wild and desperately needy life right where you are.  Don’t find security in anything but Jesus.  This life is a thrill! Let people look at you and say, “I don’t know how they do it!” Snatch up the opportunity to say, “Well, there’s this GUY….”

Article written by Carrie Smith, a lover of Jesus, helper to her wild-man Marine husband, molder of true (little) worshipers and a leader of Guard Your Heart ministries, an in-depth Bible study and mentoring ministry to teen girls. Carrie and her family are currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

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2 Responses

  1. Pat Ekern Pat Ekern says:

    Carrie, thanks for these specifics about prayer, and patience and ministry. And tell your guy thanks and that I’m praying for these things.

  2. Carrie says:

    Thank you Ms. Ekern for your kind response. My husband read your comment and was grateful for it, as I am. I know that my ALWAYS ACTIVE GOD responds to prayer so thank you for taking part in this fight of faith!

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