In a sea of carnage, engulfed by enemy gunfire and immersed in the ravages of war, Desmond Doss had every reason to join his comrades, scale the cliff, and return to the relative safety of the military base. Instead, he remained in the hellish battle; rooted in the knowledge he was there for a purpose though despairing he couldn’t hear God’s voice amid the clamor of war.
Until a faint voice cried out in the distance. “Help.”
Armed only with a ragged Bible, Doss scoured the grisly landscape of death for signs of life. One by one he snatched devastated bodies from the grip of the grave, lowering them with painstaking care over the side of the cliff; again and again he returned, risking his life with each venture until some 75 comrades were lowered to safety.
I can’t imagine emerging from even five minutes of battle unscathed mentally and emotionally. The average person would drown in the unmerciful memories. War would seem the ultimate weapon in conjuring 13 Reasons Why to give up on life.
And yet, in the midst of one of the fiercest of World War II battles, Desmond Doss found a reason to live. “Give me one more, Lord,” he prayed repeatedly until his mission was complete, staying true to his conviction: “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing…to want to put a little bit of it back together.”
Any honest person could easily come up with a list of 13 Reasons Why to plan a swift escape from this sin-sick world. Maybe if pain weren’t standing guard before death, more of us would already have left the madness of earth far behind.
But here we have a choice. We can wallow in the mire of suffering until it overtakes our resolve to live. Or we can finally declare: “It’s not about me.”
Desmond Doyle survived war without a weapon in hand, emerged from the fire a hero because of this one choice he made. He did not cower in fear of the greatest giant known to mankind. He did not succumb to complacency, savagery, or despair.
Instead, he listened for that one voice crying, “Help.” And then another, and another. And little by little, he put a small part of the world back together.
Maybe if we adopted this grand mission of putting even the smallest pieces of our own corners of this world back together, we would find our purpose is far greater than ourselves. And we would find that is more than enough reason…to live.