On January 10, I attended the funeral of a soldier that I had never met, LTC Alonzo McGhee. He was tragically gunned down outside his home and left dead in the middle of the street in a sleepy little bedroom community outside of Huntsville, AL. He left behind three small children who will never again enjoy the warm embrace of their Daddy.
Though I have not been to a military funeral before, I imagine this one was typical. The spirit was solemn, the presentation was formal, the words measured, and honor was the theme. He was eulogized as an incredible man of faith, character, and courage. He had a long list of accomplishments particularly in the area of community service for kids. He seemed very highly regarded by all who packed the Bicentennial Chapel on Redstone Arsenal.
Though I had never met him, I wept. I was impressed with the accolades. I was heartbroken to see the children with no father. I felt extreme pride in our country and its servants, but I cried when they concluded the memorial service with roll call.
The sergeant took center stage and called for roll of the company. Soldiers stood from throughout the crowd. The sergeant bellowed out a name and you would hear that soldier announce their presence. One after another echoed their presence throughout a stilled chapel. Then the sergeant shouted for LTC McGhee. And there was deafening silence. Then the sergeant shouted again, “LTC Alonzo McGhee”. Now the silence began to be filled with the sniffles and sobs of crying. Then for a third time, “LTC Alonzo Bernard McGhee”? At this point, I could not hold back my own tears. There was a terrible hole left that no one could fill. In this time of grief there were only tears to fill this void. At that very moment, volleys were fired outside and taps began to play. There was not a dry eye among this very stoic and solemn crowd. There was honor.
What about our own roll call? What significant and special names would we cry out that would be met with a chilling, eternal silence. What voids do we face and how do we face them? Are they simply holes filled with tears until the puddles evaporate and are left empty? Do we try to fill the void with another? With activity? Pain killers? Antidepressants? Resentment? Anger? How do we fill our void?
The Apostle Paul offers comfort. In II Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Only the God of ALL comfort can fill the void. All else will leave you empty and wanting. But the God of ALL comfort will not only fill your void, but give you endless opportunities to comfort others with the comfort He has offered you.
The longer we live, the more holes we will have, the more opportunity for God’s all consuming comfort.