Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lenten Devotion - March 20th, 2010

I admittedly really struggled with the verses I was assigned this year. I was assigned my reading before I left for my recent trip to visit Auschwitz, the infamous death camp used to exterminate 1.6 million Jews in World War II located in Poland. I read and re-read my verses trying to find some inspiration before I left and couldn't come up with anything. After returning from Auschwitz, I stared at my Gospel reading and moved my way finally to the Psalms. You can only imagine my surprise when I read the following verses out of my New International Versions Bible:

Read Psalm: verses 1,2,3,8,9,14,15,16,17,19,20

Many survivors remember vividly the glowing chimneys which could be seen all over the camp, working day and night. The fires were a grim reminder of the ominous fate awaiting the trainloads of people continuously entering Auschwitz everyday. As you stand looking over the 450 acres, now a memorial, where the death camp stood it is hard to imagine how God could stand by and let such terrible things happen, Why were they allowed to suffer so?
Human beings can do terrible and unforgivable things, and I believe God was there amidst all of the suffering. He was there pricking the hearts of certain guards to show mercy and clearing the path for small miracles of food and clothing that shouldn't have been able to be found. Shortly before liberation, Eva (the survivor I had the honor to accompany to Auschwitz) fainted mere seconds before her small group was showered with SS machine gun fire. She was the only one to survive.
Today, by the grace of God, many of those who surivived Auschwitz are miraculously very normal, caring and wholesome individuals, despite all they were put through. He does hear our pleas. Even in a place like Auschwitz where the unthinkable was carried out. Even today when we sometimes think He is so far away He couldn't possibly care, He is there. "Looking down from His sanctuary on high, to hear our groans..."

by Jeanette Walter

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