The Veteran Patient

This Veteran’s Day has been strikingly strange. Perhaps I just don’t see the world the same as others. Then again, maybe I do and everyone else has kept just as quiet as I have. The reality is, this week our national news has covered suicides and homicides committed by those belonging to the Veteran community. There is something profoundly dark at play but the national response is, “These poor men and women and their mental disorders. Cover your eyes with the flag and cloud your mind with these pills.” Of course, these are real and serious afflictions but in our brilliance, it appears we’ve outsmarted our very nature. As image bearers of God, we were created with a spirit that is as real as flesh. Yet when it comes to the care of our Veterans, the spirit is neglected.

  One of the first books I read after putting my faith in Christ was The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The book masterfully opens the readers’ eyes to the world of spiritual warfare. It follows the letters of a Senior Demon as he advises his protege nephew through the tactics of securing his first soul, referred to as, the “Patient.” The book was written by Lewis in England during the rise of Nazi Germany and into The Blitz of World War II. As I looked back over the writings of C.S. Lewis this week I thought, “How would Screwtape have told his beloved Wormwood to secure the soul of a “Veteran Patient”?” So I began to write.

My Dear Wormwood,

  I’m encouraged to hear that your patient has considered hurrying himself along. The suffering of man, though temporal as we know, often serves as a most useful tool. How lucky you are to have him out of this “war” and in the care of those who deal in intellect and distraction. I was pleased to hear that the patient has surrounded himself with such a great company of liars. You’ll soon find your work accommodating as they persuade the beast that his sickness excuses every good fruit; hate, anger, fear, impatience, slander, selfishness, doubt, cruelty, and entitlement. By such things, your accusations against him will be fortified. I’m eager to learn about your operations during his sleepless nights. How has the patient responded to the images of terror? Did you create excitement for things that will never be again? Self-pity? I hope you do remember to appeal to his guilt as soon as he awakes. They are wonderfully prideful creatures!

  I must warn you, dear nephew, to not tear your hook from his mouth in excitement. Though the patient is close to trading his temporal suffering for those that are permanent, your lust might expose you. An over-zealous thrust in haste could awaken him to the unseen. If in his suffering he seeks answers, do not be naive that the Enemy has told his human experiment plainly that such suffering is part of that rescue mission He calls Redemption. Should the filth find such propaganda he could be eternally lost to us. It is much better that he be blinded in confidence. Confidence in what is of no concern. Many have taken to prosperity, status, and chemical realities. These distractions have become great bonds in our campaign.

  Creating an appeal to suicide has been most productive before but I fear the tactic will be found lacking in strategy. What a great advantage it is when humanity thinks it will live forever. Do you assume the questions that accompany death will work to our advantage? Nephew, what will they look for when their knowledge and prescriptions prove as unsuccessful as we know them to be? What then, if they discover that they consist of more than flesh and a mind? It is a dangerous game. If the human appeals to the Enemy in his suffering he will assuredly be defended. If we are not careful we will see thousands turning to the One we don’t speak of and we know, once that painful cloud of light surrounds them, they are increasingly resilient to our attempts.

  This cannot be so. Move the patient to isolation. Direct any malice in his heart toward those closest to him who might intervene. Target his wife, children, and neighbors. If any love might arise in the patient, assure it is misdirected to the vaguest and most distant causes. Oh, the resentment this will stir! The human heart fears rejection more than death. Play gently, Wormwood! Do not awaken him to our existence until that terrific moment when he passes into the unseen and understands, only too late, that we have afflicted him all along. Until then, his isolation will allow you to work in peace until his destruction is accomplished.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

comfort

(Photo Credit: Air Force Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall)

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