I just finished watching the HBO series, The Pacific. It is not for the weak at heart. It is brutal, barbaric, and shocking. But that’s what the Pacific theater was really like in WWII. The last episode shows the young man in the trailer struggling to re-enter civilian life. He collapses in his father’s arms weeping after picking up a gun for the first time to go dove hunting. The association with the war was too much. I found myself tearing up as I realized the terrible cost these men paid, a cost that many of them struggled with the rest of their lives. For the war not only stole their bodies. It stole their hearts as well. Those soldiers simply shut down their hearts to survive the barrage of blood, terror, and horror. Watch the trailer to see for yourself.
And then it hit me…the connection to me, the connection to all of us. I don’t have to live through a war. For their story is our story. What happened to them on a cataclysmic level happens to all of us. The war with evil. It descends on all of us, not through a physical war, but through abuse, shame, neglect, or loss. We are caught off guard, unprepared for its brutality and sway. And it screams out the same message it did for those soldiers. “Shut down your heart. Quit feeling. If you don’t harden your heart, you will never survive the pain.”
That’s what happens when evil meets the human heart. It is certainly my story when evil descended on me at age 13. Through a series of events of neglect and loss, I simply did what seemed to be the only option. I chose to shut down. At least I won’t feel pain. So many men and women I know have a similar story. And once the hardening sets in, we become set-ups for idolatry, hedonism, alternate philosophies, and demonic assaults.
What is the way out? It is the way we all avoid. But it is the only way. Right back through the pain. It’s what those soldiers had to do to recover their hearts. It’s what we all have to do.
And when you choose to go there, you will find a surprise. The Father of all compassion waiting for you.