Deployment. I still remember the first time I heard my fiancé tell me that it was coming. His unit had been told to be ready because they were needed: Afghanistan was calling.
The next months passed dreadfully slow and yet painfully fast. Each moment was held onto like it was the last, and prayers were prayed that moments together would never end. And yet, like we knew it would, they ended, and he left.
December 19, 2012 was one of the hardest days of my life. As a fiancée, how do you send the man you love to war? And more than that, as a Christian, how do you do it with peace, trust, and faith that our God truly is in control?
Through the rest of that day I remember somehow trying to combine feelings of pride and love with abandonment and loneliness. It was in those moments that God spoke the loudest. I heard both reassurances of His faithfulness, and gentle urgings to be content in every circumstance as Paul describes in Philippians 4:11-13.
I remembered the story of God calling Abraham to take up his son Isaac to sacrifice him in Genesis 22. I imagined the feelings of despair Abraham must’ve been feeling. I imagined his deep desire to do anything but what he was being called to do. I imagined the fear he would have experienced from letting go of control. But, I saw his determination towards obedience and the Lord’s faithful provision.
I remembered Jacob and his longing to marry Rachel in Genesis 29. I contemplated what he must’ve experienced during the 7 years he had to work for her hand in marriage, and then the feelings of betrayal when he was given Leah. I contemplated the love that he had for her that made the seven years feel like just a few days (v. 20). And, I imagined the joy he must’ve experienced the day that Rachel became his wife after such a long time of waiting. Through it all, I saw the Lord’s faithfulness in sustaining Jacob.
Finally, I heard the cry of the Psalmist in Psalm 73:25 saying “Whom have I in heaven but you? There is nothing I desire on Earth but you.” I recognized the voice of the Lord drawing me to use the time of deployment to make this my cry. There can be nothing; not my fiancé’s homecoming, not his safety, and not our marriage that I desire more than our God.
It was in these stories and verses that my hope began to build. I wasn’t alone, I hadn’t been abandoned, and the God of Abraham and Jacob would sustain me and my fiancé as well.
During deployments, the physical war is fought overseas, but an internal war is also fought in the hearts of those left behind. Each day is battle; a battle for joy, contentment, and faith. Some days the battles are won, and other days, the battles are lost. But, we press on knowing that our God has won the war.
My fiancé and I have 2 ½ months left until he is supposed to return, and so we will keep fighting. I will keep working for the Lord, choosing joy daily, and praying for my fiancé’s safety, his spiritual growth, and his opportunity to be a light in a dark place.
The word deployment still sends stings of pain deep into my heart, but it has no longer defeated me. I have chosen to fight.