George and I recently watch a movie set in World War II called “Greyhound.” In the movie, Tom Hanks plays Commander Ernest Krause, who leads his first wartime mission on a battleship named the “Greyhound.” While escorting 37 merchant ships across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool, England, he also commands British, Polish, and Canadian destroyers.
Even though this is a fictional story, it has some real-life elements. In the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, there is an area called the “Black Pit.” During WWII, it was a dangerous place for ships crossing the Atlantic from America to England. German U-boats, or submarines, parked themselves underwater, waiting for the supply ships to cross into the Black Pit so they could attack. No one knew if they would drown in this “dead” area of the sea.
In the movie, Commander Krause is a man of faith and highly revered by his crew. He prayed over his food and on his knees nightly. In his stateroom, he hung this statement: “Jesus saves, yesterday, today, and tomorrow” (Hebrews 13:8). Good for Hollywood to show where his strength came from!
As Commander Krause’s ships near the Black Pit, German U-boats gather underwater, waiting to attack. A battle ensues against the U-Boat and Commander Kraus and his men win the victory. Little do they know more U-boats called the “Wolfpack” remain hidden under the dark ocean waters.
Ocean waves lap over the sides of the Greyhound and sway the massive battleship. Krause’s men spot the U-boat and standby, dressed and ready for battle. The attacks begin and the battleships fight off the enemy’s attacks.
While Krause commands the battleships and tries to save the supply ships, the leader of the “Wolfpack,” a fleet of 6 U-Boats, gets on the radio and taunts the commander. While directing his men, Krause tries to ignore the German commander’s voice as he tries to mess with Krause’s mind.
The battle rages all night long. The Greyhound is severely damaged and Krause is brokenhearted from losing some of his men, but he refuses to leave his post. Hour after hour, he stands firm without food or sleep, awaiting the unexpected. His crew is looking to him to lead the way, and the commander refuses to give in to fear. (That’s all I’m going to tell you because I want you to see the movie!)
The morning after we watched the film, I began to ponder the spiritual lessons this story contains:
- Even though Commander Krause was doing a good deed, he faced attacks from the enemy. Even when we as believers are doing something good, we are susceptible to attacks from Satan, the enemy of our souls.
- Krauss prepared for the enemy to attack. He knew it would happen in the Black Pit where they were most vulnerable. When darkness fell, the commander was equipped to fight. I wonder how prepared we are to fight our enemy, remembering that he always attacks when we are most vulnerable by taunting us with lies or preying on our weaknesses.
- Krauss orders his men to prepare for battle by putting on their helmets, life vests, boots, and weaponry. Our weapons are not carnal, but we must always be prepared for battle. As Paul writes:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (Ephesians 6:13-18).
- In constant communication with the other battleships, Krauss maneuvered their positions for battle. Likewise, we need to be in constant communication with our Commander in order for Him to position us correctly.
- Commander Krause did not know the outcome of the battles he was facing, but he would not retreat. We too should never retreat. “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV).
Figuratively speaking the enemy sees us in choppy waters, but we can run to our Mighty Fortress, Jesus. “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I trust” (Psalm 91:2 NKJV).
He promises to lift us up during our battle rather than allowing us to sink to places of defeat. He will set our feet upon a rock, making sure our steps are secure. “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (Psalm 40:2 NLB).
The movie showed Krause’s bloodied feet, depicting his determination to stand in the battle hour after hour until the enemy was defeated. I remember telling a friend during a very trying time that my knees were raw, (not in the natural), from being on them in prayer daily over a long period of time. In many battles it takes perseverance in our prayers before the Lord answers. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14 NIV).
Just as Commander Krause’s crew admired his courage, we too are witnesses to others as we encounter difficult situations. As our battles rage, we must remain steadfast in our faith and determined to defeat the enemy.
Remember, you don’t have to fight the battles of your life alone. You have a Defender, a Wise Counselor, and the Holy Spirit is ready to comfort and guide you along the way. Give Him your battles, let Him strengthen you, and He will give you confidence and peace.
God, You are my Sovereign Lord who watches over me. In my time of battles with the enemy, I call upon You to give me strength to endure. I am confident knowing You are with me. You are my Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. You supply all my needs to walk through these difficult times of testing, training, and strengthening my spiritual walk. I know that in You I am victorious. Thank you Lord for Your faithfulness to me. Amen.