While I only met him once, Aaron Carl Torian grew up in the church, Heartland Worship Center (AKA Bible Baptist Church) in Paducah, Kentucky, where I am one of the pastors. I never knew him except for a quick hello here and there but I heard about him often. I heard how he had immense passion for his country and that many of his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan were due to his volunteering. Aaron understood that freedom had a price. He was willing to sacrifice it all to protect that freedom for you and me.
While I’ll never know exactly all that he did, I know that he was a sniper and that his rank was a Master Sergeant. I read how he was named 2005 2nd Marine Division’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for his actions during Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. I know that he was well respected by all who spoke of him and that he received great honors over his career. The word is on the street that he saved several lives of other soldiers and civilians. That he risked his life for their benefit.
There is a lot I don’t know about Aaron but I do know this… He is a Hero. A hero is someone who gives his or her life to something greater than themselves. That was Aaron. He was adored by his mom and step-dad. Adored by his children. Adored by his church. He is not just a hero because he died doing what he loved, defending our country. He was a hero before that. My guess is all his brothers who served with him would tell you that we in the states only know a small fraction of all the reasons Aaron is a hero. The sacrifices he made. The courage it must have taken to go where he went and to do what he was called to. The brotherhood he shared that very few will ever experience.
I wish I had known him better. I wish I could have spent time with him to see what motivated him. I wish I could have been inspired personally by his passion. To be challenged by his discipline. To be a better person because I spent time with him. When I heard he was killed in service my heart broke as if he were someone very close to me. When heroes die we all feel the weight of it. We know that we have lost someone significant to the very world we know.
Most of all I am thankful for Aaron’s faith. That he put his ultimate trust in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that brings more joy to my heart and to the heart of those who knew Aaron than to know he is now in Heaven. A place where there is no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain. A place that Aaron will be able to rest and enjoy His Lord for all eternity. I will see you one day Aaron and I will be honored to call you a brother and to enjoy the presence of the Lord with you for all eternity. For now I honor you and remember your sacrifice for me and my family. Thanks for reminding me what constitutes being a hero.
To his wife, Jurley, and his children, Elijah, 9, Laura Bella, 4, and Avery, 2, we will do our part to remember well the man you called Husband and Father. Thank you for your sacrifice and know that his memory will live on in the hearts of a nation.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12: 25-26
We waste so many hours worrying about most things that will never even happen. Did you know worry is a sin? It is our vain attempt of controlling things around us and is the opposite of faith in God. Here are three principles to remember about worry:
1) Worry accomplishes absolutely nothing.
I think we worry because it is the closest thing to control that we have. I can make very little really happen in life or stop anything from happening. I can’t control people or time or a doctor’s diagnosis. What I can do is worry. I do this so I feel Inan doingsomething towards the situation. A better alternative would be to pray. Praying is doing something about the situation. When I pray God often does not change my circumstance but He does change my heart to see my situation in a whole different way. Respond to difficulty in life by praying.
When I pray, God often does not change my circumstance but He does change my heart to see my situation through a whole different perspective.
2) Worry has negative effects on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Stress kills. Worry is not a harmless act. It causes us pain and can lead to serious issues. Don’t just accept worrying as just who you are. God did not intend for you to worry. It. Is destroying you slowly.
3) Worry is the opposite of trusting in God.
When we worry we are saying Lord I don’t know that you got this or I don’t think you will answer the the way I want you to. Worry is the opposite of responding to life by faith. Closely tied to worry is fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear nor does he want us to be anxious about anything. When things go awry around us we need to respond by faith that God is present in our circumstance and will work it according to His purpose and for our ultimate good.
So for you worriers reading this what are you to do? When you begin to worry don’t try and overcome it by your own effort and willpower. You will ultimately fail. You have to replace your worry with something else. Instead of worrying the Bible tells us to focus in on God’s kingdom.
To not think so much about self preservation but more on kingdom advancement. That will change your life. We don’t need to try and stop worrying about what is happening to us. We need to stop thinking about ourselves so often in the first place. Don’t accept worry as a way of life. God wants you to see the unbelief and futility of worrying.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you
Read Acts 8:1-8 today. It starts with, “On that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem.” It ends with, “So there was much joy in that city.”
It hit me, how could there be joy where such great persecution existed? I think it is all about perspective. If you see persecution as personal suffering without a greater end then you will avoid it like the plague. You will do anything, including giving up your faith, to make it stop. But what if you saw persecution as a way God uses to spread the truth of Christ. What if you saw persecution as a way that God displayed his power in the church and in the world. God is Sovereign and he makes persecution serve his greater purpose. Persecution advances the kingdom, it does not thwart it. Persecution opposes complacency in our life. It forces us to take serious our faith and to not take for granted the blessings God has given.
John Piper said about persecution:
- God makes persecution serve the unstoppable mission of the church—your mission, your ministry.
- If your faithfulness brings trouble to the church (like Stephen’s did), you will be honored and not blamed—at least by the godly.
- Your worst critics can become your precious comrades by the power of Christ’s converting grace.
- And the very Word—the gospel—that brings persecution sometimes, brings joy always and forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not praying for persecution but I do see the benefits of it and I want God to do whatever it takes to be honored in my life. That is a scary prayer but one that I pray.
When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life., Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.
I know what’s its like to feel like everything is crashing down around you and nothing makes sense. The answer is not in pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and trying harder to be stronger. That way is failure because quite frankly none of us are strong enough on our own. It’s only when you take all that effort and put it into fixing your eyes on Jesus that you finally find supernatural strength and peace. Don’t carry this burden alone any longer. You have a Savior who cares deeply and wants to carry it for you. You have tried your way of handling it and you know how much that does not really work. Now give it up and look to Jesus and find rest for your soul.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30