Hundreds of people crowded into the sanctuary. The seats filled, but the line of those waiting to enter still grew. Along every wall, junior-high students stood shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement officers from nearly every agency in a 50-mile radius. Teachers and administrators, bus drivers and parents, chaplains and neighbors squeezed in. All came to honor a county deputy, a school resource officer who served junior high students with dedication and compassion.
The tributes were touching, the pictures poignant, but the sound that haunts my heart was his little girl crying, “Daddy! Daddy! I want my daddy!” Her daddy, who spent endless nights holding her in the hospital as she bravely battled cancer, is a daddy who took his life – a daddy who will miss all her milestones and fade in her memory as the years pass.
You are reading this because you’ve been there. You’ve faced death, putting your life on the line to serve and protect your country and your community. You’ve seen things most people will never see, done things most people will never do, and you carry scars most people will never see. You know the darkness, and you know how easily it can penetrate your heart and mind. Please hear me when I say you are not alone.
In combat, you have to know your enemy, and we face an enemy far deadlier than any other. Jesus said he is a murderer and the father of lies (John 8:44), a thief whose one goal is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). One of his favorite tactics is a wicked whisper that comes in the middle of the nights that seem endless, and it tells us no one understands, no one cares. It’s a lie from the pit of hell crafted to convince us we are alone.
How do you defeat a liar? With the truth.
Feelings change and circumstances are temporary, but the eternal truth is you are loved by the God who handcrafted you in his image and who has plans not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). His will for you is good, and he proved in Jesus Christ he will reach across any distance to rescue you. Yes, even rescuers need to be rescued from the enemy of the soul.
While the liar whispers, Jesus shouts, “I am with you always!” (Matthew 28:20b) We have the power to choose to whom we listen. Choose life.
Rev. Sarah Fotopulos is a United Methodist pastor and chaplain with the Christian County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri. She has authored several articles for local publications and one novel.