Blessings and Mercies That Are New Every Morning

My mentor, John Olen Strange, was a chaplain on Guadalcanal during World War II.

Though he was part of “The Greatest Generation” and served during the most destructive war in history, you would have never known it from what he said. In fact, he never spoke of it and certainly did not seem to be traumatized by it. Like almost all veterans of that war, he returned home, finished his education (a Ph. D. in Old Testament studies), went to work, and raised a family.

Guadalcanal was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. It was a small island in the Solomon Island chain in the Pacific. The U. S. sent army, air, and naval forces but mostly Marines to take it. The ensuing battle lasted from August 7, 1942, to February 9, 1943. This battle stopped the Japanese offensive in the Pacific and gave hope to the world that Japan could be eventually defeated.

It came at a great price to both sides.

Out of 60,000 American troops, 7100 died and 7800 were wounded. The U.S. lost 29 ships during the six month battle. Japan lost over 20,000 killed.

With such a long and terrible battle, you would assume this could never be forgotten and you would wonder how anyone could get over it.

Dr. Strange’s favorite verses were from the Lamentations, a book of laments concerning the taking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

Babylon took Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem, killed many people, and carried a sizable number of Jews into exile in Babylon.

Dr. Strange quoted the words of hope and thanksgiving in the middle of the laments.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ ” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

I’ve often wondered about these life verses. Were those verses learned in the middle of the battle? Were they used to praise God in spite of everything around them? Is it possible to give thanks and see God’s mercy in such sorrow and death?

Dr. Strange’s life and the lives of so many others show the blessings and goodness of God. It reminds us that all is not lost as long as the Lord is God. It shows us how our God loves and cares for His people.

7 Comments


  1. Frank Shaw
    Oct 23, 2019

    Thanks.


  2. Tammy J Snyder
    Oct 23, 2019

    Good Morning, Waylon,

    What a wondrous promise from Scripture- “The STEADFAST love of the Lord never ceases.” I love the song that is attached to that promise.
    Just wondering …. why do you think the veterans from that war came back home and became such grounded, good men, while those of recent years have so many struggles coming back home?

    Looking forward to hearing your ideas.

    God bless,
    Tammy Snyder


  3. Lonnie Wascom
    Oct 23, 2019

    Thank you for stirring my memory with your reminiscence regarding Dr. Strange. My father in-law, Earl Joseph “Jay” LaCoste was a decorated combat veteran of WWII as well, serving across the Pacific theater, most notably the Philippine Islands, with the U.S. Navy. He, too, never spoke of those years. But what he did do, this second greatest deacon I have ever known, would always respond to a family member (or friend) who said to him, “I love you,” with these words: “I love you, too. And God is love.” With all the horrific memories what came out from him was the love of God. He was an inspiration.


    • Waylon
      Oct 23, 2019

      I thank God for all those who help us be kind, compassionate, tender-hearted


  4. Kermit P. Soileau
    Oct 23, 2019

    Dear Brother, Your words today took me back to Dr. Strange’s Hebrew classes. I remember most fondly his kind demeanor and insightful words. I quote him often as I teach. Thank you for the kind words about him; he deserved them all.


    • Waylon
      Oct 23, 2019

      Yes, he did. He made an immeasurable contribution to my life.


  5. Lela (Beth) Strange
    Oct 23, 2019

    What a wonderful tribute to Olen and to his faith. It’s good to know he is remembered. Thank you!

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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[Thanksgiving] I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— — 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NIV)