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When all is done – stand

This past week saw the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s New York trial. The verdict was “guilty” on all counts. To say that shock waves emanated from that courtroom would be an understatement.

As a Republican, I'm ticked.

As an attorney, I'm disgusted.

As a veteran, I'm in disbelief.

As a Christian, I’m in prayer.

As a voter, I'm more resolved than ever.

As a citizen of the greatest nation on the face of God's green earth, I'm not taking this lying down.

This verdict goes beyond any one candidate. We are a nation where the rule of law is paramount to the good order of society. But if the “rules” for application of “law” are changed midstream, then the “good” is lost and “order” descends to chaos.

What to do? How should we respond? If you feel aggrieved by this, then you must resolve to stand.

Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God. But not just for show or safety. We put it on, as Ephesians 6:13 says, so that “you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Stand up under pressure. Stand up despite the attack. Stand in the face of your enemies. Stand for your beliefs.

Everybody knows the chorus of Lee Greenwood’s epic song, “Proud to be an American”: “‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land – God bless the U.S.A.” An amazing song. But Greenwood opens somberly, singing:

If tomorrow all the things are goneI’ve worked for all my lifeAnd I had to start again With just my children and my wife

What if everything was stripped away? If everything you ever fought for, stood for or worked for was gone? Would you fold, collapse, fall apart?

Proverbs 24:10 (MSG) says, “If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” The implication is that the strength to stand must be developed well before the need.

As my team prepared to depart Fort Bragg for remote duty in Afghanistan, we knew that we faced a year fully separated from all supply lines, physical support and relief. Before final loadout, instructors from the SERE course (survival, escape, resistance and evasion) worked with us. “If you don’t already have it, then you’d better find something bigger than yourself to hold onto,” one instructor said with great sincerity. “Because if you’re captured … and they strip everything away … you’ve got to have something bigger than you to believe in.”

Simple yet profound. Profound, and also proven by history.

During the war in Vietnam, American POW’s suffered in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Alabama’s Lt. Colonel Leo Thorsness was held there for several years. Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton, author of “When Hell Was In Session,” spent nearly eight years tortured and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese. Admiral James Stockdale was among them and coined the “Stockdale Paradox,” advocating pragmatic optimism in the midst of duress: Ground yourself in faith, yet see the facts clearly and face them head on. "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be," Stockdale said.

To continue standing, work with what you’ve got. Keep the faith, but keep busy. Hit problems head on, knowing full well that the strength you need is bigger than you, so rest in that which is bigger than you, and move forward.

In 1 Chronicles 12:32 we read about a select group of warriors named the Sons of Issachar, “men who understood the times and what Israel should do.”

There is so much in that one verse. They were warriors in a time of war and social upheaval. Men who had their eyes wide open didn’t like what they saw, so there was work to be done. Nobody folded or set unrealistic expectations. Nobody abandoned their faith or principles. They recognized their circumstances and set about to do what was necessary within them.

That’s where conservatives are right now. Yes, there is social upheaval, and yes, it has been a long several years. At every turn, it seems that traditional values are being dealt a blow. Progressivism is wreaking havoc. Antifa/BLM were allowed to riot unabated. Covid restrictions crushed small businesses and locked down schools and churches. Inflation hit 40-year highs. Transgenders compete in women’s sports. Pro-life advocates go to jail while violent felons walk away. Hard-working men and women watch college loans get paid off with their tax dollars.

We watch and we get frustrated. But when history looks back on us, will it be said that those folks back in 2024 just cowered and melted away? Or will they say that in a time of crisis, good people showed that there was really something to them in the first place – that they understood their times and what they had to do?

The Trump verdict is in and many of us believe it was a travesty. How we handle the moment will be telling.

So, work in the midst of it. Grab hold of those principles, faith, values – all those worthy things that are bigger than you – things worth standing for. Teach them to your kids. Encourage your neighbors. Stand up at the community meeting. Point out when wrong is called right and right is called wrong. Don’t set unrealistic expectations, but work nonetheless. Keep that pragmatic optimism in place.

Put on that full armor, and when all is done, stand.

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