by DanWolgemuth on June 16, 2006

In his powerful personal story, “Night,” Elie Wiesel, internationally known author, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor describes the journey of his soul as he witnessed the brutality of human against human during World War II. The horror expunged the spiritual sensitivity that had been built into his life as a Jewish boy. He writes:

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp… Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever… Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.” 

I can’t imagine. In my darkest, most horrifying nightmares, I can’t come close. Yet, as Jesus toed the ground of a mountainside in Galilee, He could imagine. This brand of hatred and suffering was not beyond His comprehension or compassion. In His famous sermon, Jesus addresses our suffering with great hopefulness:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Those without hope exchange their suffering for the cancer of bitterness and retribution; the Christ follower, the individual that suffers for authentic righteousness, exchanges their brokenness for a key to the kingdom.

Even through the smoke of Auschwitz, God was present.

Is there any despair He doesn’t understand? Any horror that overwhelms Him? Any poison that overpowers Him?

No, not one.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ?Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,? even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. ~ Psalm 139:7-12

Nothing, not Auschwitz, not Daucau, not our urban core or our rural roots, neither poverty nor prosperity, nothing can drive a wedge between our Heavenly Father and His children.

There is an exchange coming… our pain, our brokenness, our disappointment, our cry for justice, our tears for those that suffer for righteousness, become a part of the eternal transformation to eternal glory and joy.

“… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Hope indeed!

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