Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith,
knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV
I was alone that evening—a good thing because I was feeling cranky at life in general and at God in particular. The constant demands of caregiving, compounded by other stresses in my life, had me convinced that God was an unyielding taskmaster.
I decided to splurge my rare gift of personal time on some television. A DVD about Navy SEALs sat near the flat screen.1 I popped it into the DVD player, stretched out on the sofa, and settled in for a relaxing couple of hours.
Training to become a Navy SEAL is famously harsh. But I wasn’t prepared to witness the brutal conditions the recruits endure in order to be accepted into the program. The show began with the usual drills, inspections, and harassment expected in military training.
Soon it got tougher. Stone-faced officers pounded the trainees through a rigorous daily routine. The men withstood endless hours of grueling physical work as they were scrutinized for any perceived weaknesses. Under the relentless pressure, some of the men faltered and quit. I felt sorry for them. I sat up and watched tensely as the story unfolded.
The training session dubbed Hell Week descended upon the men. They went for days with little food and no sleep. They executed nonstop drills in the icy seawater. Any hint of rebellion, foul attitude, or waning energy was met with a bombardment of derision from the trainers. The men stumbled through the continuous commands, trembling from cold and exhaustion. Tempers flared. Insurrection rose to the surface. During the long days and nights of training in the sea and on the beach, men threw up, passed out, and quit.
By that point, I sat on the edge of my seat, fuming. How could they treat men with such inhumanity? It seemed so wrong. As the end of Hell Week drew near, a class of over eighty trainees had dwindled to nineteen men. Those who were left followed orders without hesitation. During the rare rest periods, they huddled together on the beach to keep warm, personal space long since abandoned.
But they were tough. They had been pushed to the edge, and they had conquered it all as a team. They understood each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They knew how to work together. Abruptly, the instructors relaxed their demands, a rearranged move saved for the moment they felt the trainees were finally functioning as a unit. Only then did I realize how carefully the instructors had monitored the men to keep them safe while surgically excising those not ready to be on the team. Those who were left operated as one man, knit together in bonds only adversity can create.
I was surprised to hear the bruised and bone-weary men praise their instructors. They understood the instructors’ job was to recreate the stress of battle conditions in order to forge a band of brothers who would fight to the death for each other and their cause. I cried. I got the message. In that holy moment God reserves for revelation and repentance, I bowed my heart to Him and asked His forgiveness for doubting Him.
I understood in a new way how He works in our lives. Harsh as it may feel, He is weeding out that which weakens us as He makes us a band of brothers and sisters who can endure any hardship and conquer every trial together.
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by Pam Thorson
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Pam was born at the Millington Naval Base outside of Memphis, Tennessee, the first child of a Wisconsin navy seaman and a Southern belle. Her early life was marked by many moves around the country as her father pursued a career in broadcasting. After traveling throughout the deep South and the Pacific Northwest, the family finally settled on the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) reservation in Idaho. Pam met her wonderful husband during college, set her roots down deep along the banks of the Clearwater River, and happily began a home and family. Pam and Aaron educated all five of their children at home. They began homeschooling in 1982 and graduated their youngest daughter in 2006. Pam and Aaron have been married forty-one years. They have five grown children, two sets of precious in-laws, and two beautiful granddaughters. Pam has long loved to write. She began writing for the local college newspaper and homeschooling group. Later she authored many devotionals for her church and an article for Evangel. In 2008 she wrote Song in the Night, the true account of her son’s injury in Canada, their fight to keep the doctors from pulling the plug, and the subsequent journey back home. Her second book is due for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in early 2014. In 2000, Pam became certified as a nurses’ aide to care for their injured son. She and her family have operated a certified family home licensed by the state of Idaho since 2000. In 2011, she completed the practical nurse program at Walla Walla Community College and earned her license as an LPN. Her conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1975 set her on a journey with her Savior spanning nearly four decades. Her love for and devotion to life has come from this association with her Creator. Pam adores her husband, her family, and friends. She enjoys her beautiful little log home, good coffee, the sound of the river at night, and just about any kind of Christian music.