The Wounded Warrior

Images of the End of the Trail sculpture abound in Native American and Indigenous artwork.
Photo by Parry Stelter

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner. 


As an Indigenous man who’s a believer in Creator Jesus as my Savior, I’ve been through many ups and downs in life. Some of these trials have been as a result of being Indigenous and some of them are issues applicable to all people. The fact of the matter is that your social/economic status and what part of this globe you grew up in can determine to what extent you, too, have gone through certain trials and sufferings—sufferings that have left you feeling wounded, sufferings that have left you feeling scared in some way. This is how I feel, especially when I’m in the thick of it.

I, as an Indigenous person, also have become familiar with the “wounded warrior” theme. There is a well-known sculpture, called The End of the Trail, that exemplifies this theme for Native Americans and Indigenous people. This statue has come to symbolize the genocide that Native Americans and Indigenous People of North America have gone through. This “Wounded Warrior” slogan is used in a national program in Canada that helps war veterans dealing with PTSD. It’s also used in more regional programs such as the one in Wisconsin with the Menominee Indian Tribe, which again teaches about how to help war veterans cope with surviving the war and emotional trauma.

I recently had a conversation with a lifelong friend of mine. I told him that when I think of everything I’ve been through during the past few years, the best way to describe it is that God has totally broken me. He responded, “It sounds like you're saying that you feel that you are broken with regards to being submissive to God’s will in your life, but I don’t hear you saying that you're emotionally broken.” He was right. I still get up every day and do whatever is in front of me. If I’m feeling depressed, it’s not the type of depression that has completely paralyzed me from living and pursuing my career as a scholar, writer, and Bible teacher, or looking after my family.

I believe that The End of the Trail statue and silhouette that is often used in Indigenous arts, crafts and clothing also points to this reality. Because the warrior is slumped over and looks like he is dying, I’m not sure if that’s exactly what I was thinking of as my main point today. I know that the war veteran programs that have this slogan attached to it are about how to help war veterans to live the best life they can. This gets closer to the truth of my main point, but it doesn’t bring me fully there.   

What gets to the point in a more concise way is Jeremiah 30:17, which says, “‘I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,’ says the Lord. ‘For you are called an outcast—”Jerusalem for whom no one cares.”’” The reason why I admire this Scripture is that the Lord says he will give back the health and heal the wounds for a people that sinned and turned away from the Lord and went into exile. Nobody cared for them. If the Lord wanted to restore and heal a people that were rebellious; how much more does the Lord care for those who are trying to serve him.

Another verse is 1 Peter 2:24. Speaking of Jesus, it says, “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” This is getting closer to my point. The Creator Jesus was wounded for our sins even though he didn’t have any sin in him, because he was fully human and fully God when he walked on the earth. Jesus experienced being wounded in a greater way than any human can experience being wounded and broken. This is why he can relate to us when we come to him and are broken and wounded.

Jesus was broken and wounded, but he still accomplished his Father’s will. This is why I continue to seek to do God’s will in my life even though I feel broken and wounded. I hope and pray that this is the case right up until I take my last breath. This is my prayer and hope for you as well. Jesus is our highest example to look to when it comes to suffering and being broken. For me when I look at The End of the Trail image shown in many forms of Indigenous artwork, and when I see the wounded warrior slogan, these point me to Jesus, but they aren’t my highest examples to look to. Jesus is my highest example to look to.  

I was uplifted when my friend gave me this feedback on his perspective of being broken and wounded. I was uplifted because it reminded me of Jesus and all he stands for as he went on his last ride as a fully human and fully God warrior and chief. After Jesus was wounded for our sins, he rose three days later and then ascended back to the Father’s right hand. Leaving the Great Spirit, the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us, as we all go through many aspects of life that leave us feeling wounded. We can be wounded and broken and not paralyzed in fear. All because of what Jesus has done for us and wants to continue to do for us.        

 

About the Author

Parry Stelter is originally from Alexander First Nation that is part of Treaty Six Territory. He is a doctoral candidate in contextual leadership with Providence University and Seminary who offers workshops on grief, loss, and intergenerational trauma. He is a member of Hope CRC in Stony Plain, Alta. His website is wordofhopeministries.ca.

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