Part of the U.S. Army Soldier's Creed says, "I will never leave a fallen comrade." And when I was in the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps School back in the early 1980s, this concept of not leaving an injured Sailor or Marine on the battlefield was ingrained in us. (In fact, U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen are the most decorated in the entire Navy and Marine Corps with dozens winning the Medal of Honor.) In Corps School we used to constantly hear the old cliche, "There are worse things in life than dying!" In other words, we only really live when we face life fearlessly and courageously and put ourselves on the line for others. This doesn't mean being fool-hardy, but weighing all our options, mitigating risk, and then stepping out into the unknown. Jesus taught this concept too when he constantly reminded his disciples to not be afraid. He taught that you'll only truly find your life when you lose it.
On the night Jesus was betrayed he even told his disciples, "The hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (John 16:32-33). And in fact, with the exception of the young teenager St. John, they all left Jesus behind when He needed them the most. They abandoned their friend, confidant, mentor, Lord, and Savior out of fear for their own miserable lives. St. Peter even denied he knew him three times! Out of the twelve disciples of Jesus, one betrayed him and committed suicide, ten abandoned him and all died martyrs deaths, and the one who stuck by him, St. John, lived to be an old man and died a natural death.
On our life's journey, how many family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers have we left behind on the battlefield of life when it was no longer convenient or expedient to stick by them? How many have we betrayed for a lousy "thirty pieces of silver?" And how often have others abandoned us or betrayed us in our hour of need? People will disappoint us and let us down when we need them the most. No wonder we all have a hard time letting others into our lives. No wonder we build up self-defenses to keep people from emotionally hurting us. No wonder so many people treat others so badly. We don't want to get hurt. Emotional pain can be far more painful than any physical pain. Loving others makes us vulnerable so it's just easier to give into hate.
In a sense, when we abandon our brothers and sisters on the battlefield of life, we're abandoning Jesus. You know, there are worse things in life than dying and that is never really living. Jesus taught there's no greater love than to lay down your life for another, and He lived this when He laid down his life to save us all. Helping to save others throughout life's battles is what we'll be remembered for. So never leave a man behind!