Adapted from The Fellowship of St. James Newsletter, August 8, 2013,
by Executive Director James M. Kushiner
Every day we must make the effort to stand firm in the daily spiritual battle that is the Christian life. I can’t emphasize enough how small actions and obediences can make a difference– even when, as is usually the case, you don’t see the difference.
In the real world of battle, this has repeatedly been the case. A good example is what happened during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. Caught by complete surprise on December 16, 1944, Allied forces were driven back as German troops poured through gaps in the front line and surrounded and overwhelmed many Allied units. It took a full day for the Allied command to realize that a massive offensive was underway and that it was not going well, as Stephen Ambrose describes it:
On December 17, the trickle of frightened men fleeing the battle began to turn into a stream… By December 18 the stream was becoming a flood. The waves of panic rolled westward… On the third day of the attack… the U.S. Army was in an apparent rout… a sad spectacle. Roads were jammed with Americans in full retreat.
But all was not lost along the extended American front:
But although surrounded, the Americans in many cases fought back with every weapon available to them– usually just small arms… Scattered groups of men stuck to their guns at crossroads and in villages…. German losses were catastrophic.
Even though the Allies were being pushed back, “Hitler’s timetable was already falling apart, thanks to an unknown squad of GIs here, a platoon over there, fighting although surrounded and fighting until their ammunition gave out.” The German army was being bled by brave men who refused to retreat. Hitler’s offensive eventually stalled, becoming vulnerable to Eisenhower’s counterattack, which saved the day.
Every defeat of a temptation, every act of kindness, mercy, love, and compassion– these are victories that spread grace and light even into very dark places. Standing firm, we do what we can, and let God bless it as he will.
I Corinthians 15:1-2…58 — Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain…. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Ephesians 6:13-14a — Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…
II Thessalonians 2:15– So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you…
James 5:8 — …Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may
drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can
wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt
aside. Amen. –St. Thomas Aquinas