Monday, September 23, 2013
I revisited a horrifying place in my mind. A cold, empty place I visited a few years ago. As I walked the gravel walks of Dachau Concentration camp I actually wanted to hear the voices of the dead speak their horrors, so that I would not forget. That man is innately good is a philosophy I cannot believe here and Scripture is confirmed in my mind that "surely I was sinful at birth" (Ps. 51:5). The evil callousness of mankind compared to the justness and righteousness of God is astounding in a place such as Dachau. One enters the gas chambers and you can almost hear the panicked cries of confusion from the ghosts that linger there.
Where is hope, in a place such as this? IS there hope in a place such as this? It seemed like the hopeful dead whispered to me and urged me forward, and there, in the strangest place, you come across a peaceful yard. It is fenced in and an old Nazi guard tower is its entrance. But there, at the end of earthly hell, is a nunnery. A place of solitude, worship, forgiveness ...
I don't think it's an accident that it is there. It's the reminder of Christ's promise "IN this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world". It's not a promise against persecution, but a promise of hope that can be seen at the end of whatever trial we experience.
I was struggling a few years ago with some issues--like relocating to a different state for my husband's job, the possibility of never having children, and the idea that I may never be a successful writer. My biggest struggle was frustration and guilt over struggling at all!! When I compared my trials to the trials of those at Dachau they became minuscule. But, yet I struggled, and I judged myself for struggling. Until there came a Wednesday evening at youth group that we had an old elderly man share of his experience during the Holocaust. His accent was so thickly German you had to strain to understand him.
I was so ashamed with guilt over my petty worries after his blazing horrors. In a rare moment, I found myself crying in public. Then the unthinkable happened. He approached me. This Holocaust survivor sought me out in the crowd. I didn't want to look him in the face for his aged, rheumy eyes to see my pettiness. He grabbed my hands and pulled me so close to him I could feel his breath on my face. He captured my eyes in his stern and sincere gaze. He shook my hands for emphasis, squeezing them in earnest concern. He said the only thing he knew to say clearly in English: "Jesus will take care of you! Jesus will take care of you!"
In that moment, I knew he communicated that one cannot compare trials, for all trials are different from different perspectives. But the one hope remains the same, "Jesus will take care of you!" I went home changed that evening. I had received a blessing from a Holocaust survivor. The blessing was permission to struggle but a blessing of hope.
There is hope today in Dachau, and there was hope there over fifty years ago. That hope is eternal and is shared, no matter the trial or persecution. No matter the pain. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!
Winner of Jody Hedlund's "Rebellious Heart" is.... LOREE HUEBNER!