After my somewhat depressing reflection on the horrible state of these times, I've felt the need to post some encouragement for all of those who have been sharing my despair. Before I continue, I want to thank all those who left such comforting and uplifting comments on my last post, and I would highly recommend that those who haven't read them take the time to, for those comments helped remind me of the great virtue that I had forgotten to keep: the virtue of hope.
Though everything that I wrote about was, and is still, true, we have not been called to a hopeless existence that ends in death. On the contrary, we have been called to take part in a supernatural battle whose end we know, but must strive to reach. We- the followers of God, the great soldiers of Christ- are not just pawns on a chess board, being moved thoughtfully but not lovingly. We are greatly loved by our Creator, and He does not force us to move this way or that, but asks us. He gently guides us in the right direction, but it is up to us to choose to listen. The very fact that we exist shows that God has not given up on this world yet. He wants us to keep fighting; He has called us to meet the Enemy with the armor of God to protect us and the sword of truth to defend us. We are loved, cherished, and have not been called to suffer without cause. All of our sufferings, from a simple headache to public persecution, can be offered up for the salvation of ourselves and the world. The way we face trials and trust through despair are our greatest tools for evangelization. When Satan tempts us, or when demons rise against us, it is God giving us a chance to do something amazing for Him, to glorify Him in our stand against evil. Every wound we bear, every temptation we forgo, is God giving us a chance to take one step closer to Heaven. There is no short-cut; the road to Heaven is not paved with gold and surrounded by flowers, all of those beautiful things must wait until we have succeeded in staying on the narrow path. If Jesus allowed Himself to be tortured and killed for the likes of us, then we should be able to respond to His call and take up our crosses and follow Him, trusting in His promise to never give us more than we can handle.
In turning all of these things over in my mind, a clip from The Lord of the Rings came to mind (big surprise there). Poor Frodo is in so much pain, facing so much hardship, and slowly the demon is taking over his mind- not because he's giving in- but because he just has so much to resist. He looks up at Sam with his dirty face and red eyes and says "I can't do this, Sam." Sam replies: "I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something." Frodo asks: "What are we holding onto, Sam?" And good, simple, wonderful Sam reminds both him and all of us: "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fighting for."
May we remember Sam's noble, honest words. May we never let go of this hope, and this fact that- as long as God is still within the world- there is indeed good worth fighting for. Please read the comments on the previous post, watch the above clip, look at the Bible verse Ioannes linked to, and look up other verses in the Bible about perseverance. And, in the words of Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never give up."
May God bless His soldiers, and fill them with the strength to go on, and the hope to look forward to better days.
Frodo and Sam quote copied from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/305555.