Generals of the past
Our knowledge and understanding of history can help shape our future. In celebration of those who have served our nation past and present, it is important to remember lessons from some of our nation’s military leaders of the past. One of the most memorable generals of our nation’s history is Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. General Jackson, who helped lead the Confederacy during the War Between the States, had faith in Almighty God and was considered by many to be fearless. He earned the nickname “Stonewall” on the battlefield because he was unmoved, even by enemy fire.
Jackson was well known for his faith by his words and through his actions. After the First Battle of Bull Run, Jackson said the following to Captain John D. Imboden, “My religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time of my death. I do not concern myself with that, but to be always ready whenever it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and all men would be equally brave“. Jackson also said “Never take counsel of your fears“.
Robert E. Lee was general-in-chief for the Confederacy during the War Between the States. General Lee was committed to his relationship with Jesus. He said, “My chief concern is to try to be a humble, earnest Christian.” And while Lee understood that there was a reason for war, he also understood the ugly side of war that so many of us don’t see. He said, “What a cruel thing war is… to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors” and “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it“.
Lessons for the future
Stonewall Jackson’s words teach us that we should always trust in God, even when things seem like they can’t get any better. We should not be afraid of anything, regardless of the circumstances. We should not be so quick to make decisions based off of fear. Acting on our greatest fears often times makes things worse. Jackson was not afraid of dying on the battlefield and that helped him as a leader. God does not want us to be worried about death. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” Matthew 10:28
Robert E. Lee’s words teach us that war is very unpleasant. He viewed war as a last result due to the horrors that come with it. One of the best ways we can honor our veterans is by keeping them out of harms way as much as possible. The decision to go to war should be thoroughly prayed through and should be done legally. “When your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for your name, then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.” 1 Kings 8:44-45
We should go to extreme lengths to seek peace with our enemies for as long as possible. “When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it.” Deuteronomy 20:10
Here are three lessons that we can learn from God’s word that were also clearly demonstrated by Jackson and Lee…
- Do not be afraid, even if you are facing dire circumstances. (Psalm 56:11)
- Do not make decisions based off of fear. Do the right thing, even if it scares you. (James 4:17)
- Do everything you can to preserve peace. Do not become infatuated with war. (Romans 12:18)
It is so easy to forget the lessons of those who have gone before us, so it is good for us to learn from our nation’s history from time to time. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana