Summary: God is a "present help in trouble" Ps 46.1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps 46:1)
Committed Christians over the centuries have paid an important role in our armed forces. They have prayed for their country and they have been leaders in the forefront of battle.
One such Christian was Lt. General Sir William Dobbie (known as Dobbie of Malta).
Dobbie was Governor General of Malta during the Second World War – at a time when the defence of Malta was at its darkest hour.
The Italian forces had overwhelming superiority, both in numbers and firepower.
Yet Malta never fell to the enemy – and for their courageous stand - the whole island was awarded the George Cross.
Historians still cannot understand why the Italians did not take the island - given its strategic position for the convoys going to North Africa.
Dobbie realised the weakness of his position and that God alone was - in the words of Ps 46 - his “present help in trouble”. Ps 46:1
In his book entitled “A Very Present Help” Dobbie records his first “Special Order of the Day”, on the Island of Malta defining policy governing the defence of the island which read as follows:
"The decision of His Majesty’s Government to fight until our enemies are defeated will have been heard with the greatest satisfaction by all ranks of the garrison of Malta.
It may be that hard times lie ahead of us, but however hard they may be, I know that the courage and determination of all ranks will not falter and that with God’s help we will maintain the security of this fortress, I therefore call upon all officers and other ranks humbly to seek God’s help and then in reliance upon Him to do their duty unflinchingly.”
Those were the words of a Christian General engaged in the height of the Second World War not an armchair theologian remote in his ivory tower.
His Christian faith was a reality when under fire.
He looked to God for strength in the tasks that he had to do.
What a contrast to today where a Christian nurse is threatened with dismissal from the NHS for wearing her Christian Cross!!
Although Dobbie survived Malta, the war took its toll and he was invalided home in 1944.
Sadly, we take the sacrifice of the many men and women who served in the Forces for granted.
We too easily forget the price they paid for the peace and freedom we enjoy today.
I think Remembrance Sunday is one of the most important services in the Christian year – a time when we stop to “remember them”
I am not old enough to remember the Second World War – I was born ten years after it ended.
But my father and my Uncle Don were involved in the war.
Story: Dad served in the North African campaign and was at Alamein with Monty.
He also served in the Italian campaign. At Monte Casino, the blast of the guns badly damaged his hearing.
Towards the end of his life, Dad told us how the ravages of war had weakened his heart – which eventually gave out in 1988.
Dad never talked much about the war.
Though I do remember him once telling me how he was walking through a field in single column one day.
And an enemy shell fell on the Canadian soldier behind him.
The man simply ceased to exist – some mother’s son for whom the family would grieve.
As General Sherman, the American Civil War General once said: “War is hell”. How true it is.
Story: My Uncle Don lost his hair when as a young lad of about 20.
He was twice torpedoed on a ship that in the transatlantic convoys.
The loss of his hair scarred him for life – leaving him with a very low self worth for the rest of his life.
He too was a victim of war.
Yet Dad and Uncle Don were the lucky ones – they survived.
Many of their friends – and your friends - did not make it through the war years.
1. The Sacrifice
Remembrance Sunday is not just a reminder of those who died in the First and Second World Wars - important as they were.
It is also a reminder of other conflicts that our armed services have been in
The Korean War
The Aden and Malayan Emergencies
The Falkland War
The Cyprus Conflict
The Northern Ireland Police Action
The 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars
The Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts.
The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that God has given to mankind.
Some of our memories are happy and we can recall wonderful experiences.
But some of our memories are sad and we may
weep as we remember them.