On April 5, 2003, at the age of 34, Army Staff Sergeant Stevon A. Booker was killed by enemy fire in Iraq during a raid into Baghdad. Although I had heard and read about other casualties of war, this particular incident hit close to home because he was family! To the world he was Staff Sergeant Booker, but to those close to him, he was Stevie.

I was in shock the night I received the news that he was dead. My heart especially ached for his mother, sister and nephew. Stevie was gone??? No! It couldn’t be right! Again, he was ONLY 34 years old!!! He had been in the service since he was 18 or 19 years old.

He still had so many more years to live. In fact, following his death, I was told that Stevie had made plans to bring home a special lady, also a member of the service, to meet his family, and in just a few more years, he would have been eligible to retire. However, none of that was going to happen now, and it just didn’t seem fair!

As I pondered over the tragic event, I found solace in knowing that Stevie was a true soldier! A soldier can be defined as an enlisted man or woman. However, just because one survives boot camp doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a TRUE soldier! A true soldier is willing to fight in order to defend his or her own. In battle or war, a true soldier risks being injured, maimed and even killed. Although we didn’t want to believe that Stevie was never coming back, we had to remember one thing! He was a true soldier who had made an allegiance to the army and to this country, even if it meant losing his life!

The book of Romans was an epistle or formal letter written by the apostle Paul to the Christians at Rome. In Romans 8:35-36 he asked,

“35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Paul was informing them that as Christians they would face trouble. In other words, at times they would be persecuted, hungry and destitute, and in grave danger because they chose to follow Jesus Christ.

This truth still resonates today. As believers in Christ, we will face challenges, just as Jesus faced challenges while living on earth as a man. Because He was ridiculed, we will be ridiculed. Because He was mistreated, we can expect to be mistreated. Because He was attacked, we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re attacked. Therefore, we must learn to persevere.

To persevere is to endure through difficult circumstances. II Timothy 2:3 says,

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Paul wrote a letter to his young Christian brother Timothy encouraging him to continue doing the work of the Lord and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, despite any suffering and hardship he would experience.

Like a true soldier, as believers in Christ, we’ve made a commitment to serve God. Consider the apostle Paul. He was totally committed to telling others about Jesus, even if it meant sacrificing his life. In II Corinthians 11, he acknowledged being a prisoner and facing death countless times, including being whipped and even stoned by Jews and Gentiles alike. Three times he was shipwrecked. There were nights he didn’t get any sleep and days he went without food, water or warm clothing. Nevertheless, because of his faith in Jesus and undying devotion, he continued to persevere. He kept praying, preaching and encouraging other believers.

Just as the apostle Paul persevered, I encourage you to do the same! Don’t allow anything or anyone to stop you from fulfilling your commitment to God. Trust that even when you go through, that God is with you. Know that every struggle is worth it, because not only do you gain rewards on earth, but you will gain the reward of eternal life because you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and remained faithful to the end!

If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can do so right now. I then encourage you to find a good Bible-believing church that will help you grow in your relationship with the Lord.

Romans 10:9 (NIV) says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Please pray the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I come to You confessing I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe You shed Your blood on the cross and died for my sins, were buried and rose again so I could be free! Please forgive me for my sins and the life I have lived. I confess You Jesus as Lord and accept You as my own personal Savior. According to the Word of God, I am now saved! Hallelujah! I AM FREE!


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