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‘Faith in God Helped Me Endure’

In the wake of our country’s arguably most contentious election to date, it’s nice to pause — to take a day to remember those who have served and continue to serve our country.

For as long as America has been in existence, there has been a strong connection between God and country. Our nation was founded on, and has been rooted in, God’s sovereignty. Today and always, we look to our veterans, to the valiant and brave men and women who have taken this calling seriously and fought the good fight to keep America strong and to protect those of us at home.

“Faith in God helped me to endure the tough times. And wanting others to have the same religious freedoms that I have is what allowed me to be able to justify deployments etc. despite the personal sacrifice they entail.”

There is no doubt that faith and service are two interconnected themes, that they go hand-in-hand with what we are taught in scripture. We are taught that “faith without deeds is dead,” and so many of our service members seek to align their deeds of service to their faith in God.

“[Faith in God] helped me see the importance of fighting for the freedom of others, by seeing them all as His people, created in His image,” Jessica Kilpatick Melin, a nautical captain in the United States Army who is based in Virginia, told LifeZette. “Faith in God helped me endure the tough times. And wanting others to have the same religious freedoms that I have is what allowed me to be able to justify the deployments despite of the personal sacrifice they entail.”

Through her service, both Jessica Melin and her husband, Ben, have made sacrifices for their family — to sacrifice for our country. Often serving and being deployed at separate times, the couple have managed to raise four children, honor and respect the values of our country by serving us both at home and abroad. They’ve also managed to keep their faith in God all the while.

Related: Veterans Day Is About God and Country [1]

Jessica Melin added, “I am so thankful for all of my freedoms and feeling that God would want all people to have those same freedoms gave me strength and courage. The seven Army values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage — these same attributes are encouraged all throughout scripture. My walk with God made me a better soldier, and being a soldier increased my faith. God gave me strength physically, emotionally and spiritually by causing circumstances that forced me to rely on HIM.”

Johnny Fife, a former Marine submariner, had a similar experience in regard to his faith as a service member, though he now wishes he’d been more open; he could have relied on God that much more.

Fife told LifeZette, "We didn't really have to engage with enemy combatants, but we had our share of real-world situations. Without being in a life-or-death situation, most of the time it feels like a normal job. When it does get real, though, the first thought that crossed my mind is God."

Though not always at the forefront of his mind during service, Fife sees today that God’s hand, His protection, had been alongside him during his military service.

"I know God was looking over me, and I wish I could have used what God gave me even more throughout my service."

"Since the military is so diverse, a good chunk of the guys just want to get in the action and do the ‘man thing,' so if they even focus on God, it doesn't show — or they hide it. It can be harder to focus on God and have a good Christian testimony [in the service]. There is also not much time to [get to] church, even though they encourage a lot of religious beliefs and freedoms. So basically, I had faith going in, and it was tested because it is hard to keep a testimony. But I know God was looking over me, and I wish I could have used what God gave me even more throughout my service."

Fife now celebrates his faith, knowing God never once overlooked him even in his most challenging times in the military. While we all know the saying about hindsight, not a day goes by that Fife doesn’t thank the Lord for his goodness.

"I turned to alcohol a lot to relieve stress from work and my marriage at the same time, instead of turning to God. If I turned to Him more I think I would still be serving just as I wanted." But now Fife is in a space of understanding spirituality, of turning to God when things get hard, something he knows he would not hold so dear had he not endured such trials as in the military.

Related: Veterans Day: The Perfect Time to Say Thank You [2]

Our servicemen and women sacrifice their lives for our freedoms daily on so many levels. They miss out on time with their spouses and families  —and are often surrounded by a dark, lost and often terrifying world.

Today and this entire weekend and beyond, let's take time to thank our veterans, thank our God, that we are still the United States of America — and that we have people like Captain Melin and Submariner Fife to thank for the freedoms we enjoy every day.