There is a letter hanging on my wall from Overton U.S.A. General Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. As far as I know there is no longer an Overton U.S.A. General Hospital. This was an army hospital for the Union during the civil war. The letter is exceptionally long, in my opinion, for what it was meant to do. A Dr. Welch penned the letter, explaining to Jeremiah Reynolds in New York, that his son had died. He didn’t die of a bullet or trauma but from disease that he contracted during the war. The patient had wasted away to nearly nothing and clearly the doctor did not know exactly what the issue was but attributed it to the conditions of being a soldier. The patient, under this doctor’s care passed away “as calmly as an infant goes to sleep”. Each time I read the letter I am touched by the words the doctor took the time to write. I don’t know how many times this Dr. Welch had to write letters like this but it is likely that there were many. 620,000 men died in the Civil War. This doctor had seen a lot of death. I think this patient had been in the hospital for quite some time and the doctor had come to know him. He states that this man, Ira M. Reynolds, was a good and faithful soldier.
The Civil War was tragic. There was nothing good or decent about it. It was a means to an end but in itself it was vulgar and unthinkable. Nearly as many men have died fighting their own countrymen as have died fighting all other wars in the history of our country. One can thumb through one of the volumes of pictures taken during the way to get a glimpse into the agony of this war. Death didn’t come one by one. It came in waves, leaving stacks of corpses and dismembered soldiers screaming in pain. It came in once tranquil fields where the lifeless eyes outnumbered the living. It was ugly and it came with a putrefying and gut-wrenching stench. It was a horror of epic proportions. The repercussions and rewards of that conflict on our country’s soil are still being felt today. In the end, I believe that our country did what it had to do to purge itself of an ugly part of itself.
I, for too long, have allowed a civil war to take place inside me. I know what is right but I feel I cannot afford to let the wrong go. I justify the wrong and rationalize and continue to go on in my erroneous thinking.
Romans 7:15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
And so the civil war within me, the war between my states, the war between what is right and wrong rages on. Sometimes I want to blame someone. Sometimes I blame other people. But that is a lie and the problem lives inside of me. It tears at me and tries to kill me. It tortures my mind and fills me with confusion and chaos. It is ugly and unrelenting. It is in every man. Even the Apostle Paul suffered from it.
Romans 7:22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Misery and torment plague the soul of men and women everywhere. Our minds are casualties of war. But we will win.
Romans 7:25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Jesus fought this war too. Not for himself but for us. He suffered and died and rose again to make a way for us to win this conflict between right and wrong. We are no longer slaves to it.
Ephesians 4:8 That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
When Christ ascended to heaven He did more than just float up into the air to be back home with His dad. He filled the entire universe with himself. People no longer had to find out where He was and go to Him. He had now made himself available to everyone in every place. He is there, wherever I am, to fight the war inside me. He is here with me now. My war is won.