When I was a child and found myself waking up from a bad dream or fearing a monster under my bed, my first reaction was to find my father. I knew if he was near he would pick me up, hold me in his arms, and tell me there was nothing to be afraid of. This practice provided instant security and comfort; unfortunately, it could not last forever. As I grew, I had to find refuge using a new shield to hide behind or cover up with to protect me from my fears. Who knew grown-up fears would be much more terrifying than monsters under the bed!
We all deploy some type of shield in times of struggle. Some are practical, some are not. Some are material and some are emotional. We all have different reasons for our choice of shields, and most of us have more than one. I found my most powerful shield after a Sunday-morning service during my senior year of college, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I had begun to realize that I had no control over my own life. It was uncharted territory for me as I understood I could no longer depend on the things of this world to find protection, comfort, and happiness, but instead needed to put my full faith and dependence in God.
The infancy of my life as a believer was Satan’s opportunity to attack me with new anxiety and fears, as these are two of Satan’s favorite weapons. One would think these attacks would lessen as faith matures, but they don’t. Instead, my faith has enabled me to recognize that I need not fear, for “The Lord is my strength and my shield…” (Psalm 28:7a). The greatest thing I can do is realize that everything comes from God, and He has the power to overcome all.
While I was enlisted in the United States Army, I spent over 26 months in a combat zone. I wish I could say that during those 26 months I was totally fearless, but I can’t. I can, however, say that I was in constant communication with God, and He was my shield. Each and every time I rushed into the unknown, I trusted that God was with me. I prayed for God’s protection and His will. I ran to His arms, just as I had done with my earthly father when I was young.
I didn’t worry about the unknown because I know my God knows all. I didn’t put my faith and confidence in my weapon, my body armor, or my boots. Instead, I put my faith in God. I was not reckless, as I always maintained my equipment and followed military order to a T. I knew these worldly objects and rules would help protect me from worldly dangers, but my eternity was not invested in these items. It’s kind of like each and every one of us who puts a seatbelt on when we get in a car. A seatbelt may help prevent serious injury if you’re involved in an accident, but it will not prevent you from spending eternity in hell. We can all become too trusting of our own plans and protections in this world, but the only guarantee is God. Only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross at Calvary has the power to save you.
This Veterans Day will mark the 13thanniversary of a moment in my life when my “Shield of Faith” saved me from certain death. Had I not been faithful, seeking God and trusting in His will, I would not be here today. I’ll probably never fully understand why God saved my life on November 11, 2005, but I’m glad He did. The peace I feel about my combat experience comes only from God and has allowed me to share my story with hundreds of people. Maybe the reason God spared me is so someday my story will touch someone in a way that allows that person to put flesh to death and find victory through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith always conquers.
Author: Sergeant TJ Hanna
Unit of Assignment
1st of the 502nd Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division
Yusifiyah, Iraq 2005-2006 (12 months)
Assigned Duty Position: Machine Gun Team Leader
Northern Baghdad/Sadr City, Iraq 2007-2008 (14 months)
Assigned Duty Position: Battalion Senior Scout Sniper