Standing When Others Fall

On May 5, 1945, U.S. soldiers climbed the Maeda Escarpment. The Japanese soldiers fought hard to protect their land and left hundreds of U.S. soldiers on the field dead, wounded or maimed.

However, the U.S. returned this time inching their way to success. During a moment of victory, the U.S. won a skirmish on Hacksaw Ridge. Even so, their celebrations were short-lived. The Japanese launched a vicious counterattack leaving less than one-third of the U.S. company alive.

A call to retreat came across the waves, and the U.S. forces pulled back – except Corporal Desmond Doss who remained on the top of the hill and provided first aid to the infantrymen in his unit. The entire night, Doss, alone, retrieved and lowered a minimum of 75 servicemen to safety.

Doss joined the military not to destroy life, but to “put life back together.” Raised a Seventh – day Adventist, Corporal Doss never drank, smoked, cussed, or missed a Sabbath day of worship. Most of all, he never carried a gun and swore to God he would not touch one either.

However, he could not stay home while his friends and family went to war to protect the country. Doss enlisted with the desire to become a medic and save the lives of the men who entered the front lines. Nonetheless, his distaste for violence and his refusal to take up arms created a deep resentment between himself and his infantry rifle company. His superiors and his bunk mates let him know their dislike for his religious convictions and called him a coward while beating him with their fists.

His superiors subjected him to a court martial trial for disobeying an order by not completing his rifle training. Despite the insults, abuse and the potential jail time, Doss stood firm. He would not acquiesce, or rescind his beliefs. Finally, the military courts released him under the Second Amendment provision that solidified Doss’ right not to bear arms.

Thus, that night on Hacksaw Ridge, Doss met his opponents who labeled him an unpatriotic weakling. They watched as he dodged bullets to retrieve them and strained to lower their injured bodies down the slope to safety.  

Many today, would have told Doss to compromise, or “just go along” with the training. A momentary acquiescence would have led him to his end goal quicker and saved him all the pain and suffering he endured. However, Doss wouldn’t have it; his integrity gripped his soul and would not provide him a way out of the drama. His conscience jabbed at his heart and the only way to relieve it of its pain was to remain steadfast. First Peter 3:16 says, “And keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (NASB).

In his sermon the Vanishing Conscience, (linked here) Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Ca, says, “We have another system in our body called pain. It’s a warning system designed to tell you that something is wrong with you physically. If you override it, you will do permanent damage to yourself. And the conscience is like that, it is the same kind of warning system that God has given to us to tell us when we’re doing damage to our souls. Thus, conscience either excuses you or accuses you. Either it says, ‘“Good, wonderful, you’re doing well,’ or it says, ‘Hold it, stop!”’

A clear conscience acts like a live wire that sparks and thrust sharp pain when touched. If you are participating in an unrighteous act and you no longer feel that sudden twinge of unrest, then you’ve seared your principles, and you’re on a path away from God and towards trouble.

A suppression of your beliefs will either harden you before God or leave you sleepless over your guilt. Therefore, a good conscience can cut through the confusion and take a stand.

We must never suppress the warning system based on political correctness, or peer pressure. Remember Judgment Day before God is not a conference or a meeting with you and all your family and friends – it’s you and God alone. Therefore, it does not matter if your circle of supporters condones your behavior because they will have to account for their choices when they meet their Creator.

Therefore, feed the well of your conscience by saturating your mind with His Word, and you will be prepared to stand tall when the world, and God, sees you.