With thanks to Tony Jones for the quotes
Elie Wiesel survived the Holocaust, but his faith in God did not. A couple of years ago, I sat on the couch in my living room and read his moving book "Night" in one sitting. I cried many times before I finally put the little book down at about 1 or 2 a.m.
In the book Wiesel recounts a particularly difficult moment in a concentration camp. One awful day he was standing in a crowd that was forced to witness the execution of a young child. As they stood there, Wiesel heard someone say "For God's sake, where is God? . . . And within me, I heard a voice answer 'Where is He? This is where—hanging here from this gallows.' " (From Night)
Jürgen Moltmann also experienced the Holocaust; first as a German soldier, and then as a prisoner of the British army. Though he never participated in the atrocities of the Nazis, he found himself completely overwhelmed with guilt for what his own people had done. While a prisoner, Moltmann was converted to Christianity. He eventually became a well known theologian. (Moltmann taught the Reverend Dr. Paul Zahl, who served as my spiritual director for two years).
In responding to Wiesel's memory of that horrible execution, Jürgen Moltmann wrote this: "If that (story) is to be taken seriously, it must also be said that, like the cross of Christ, even Auschwitz is in God himself. Even Auschwitz is taken up into the grief of the Father, the surrender of the Son and the Power of the Spirit. . . As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, only with the resurrection of the dead, the murdered and the gassed, only with the healing of those in despair who bear lifelong wounds, only with the abolition of all rule and authority, only with the annihilation of death will the Son hand over the kingdom to the Father. Then God will turn his sorrow into eternal joy . . . God in Auschwitz and Auschwitz in the crucified God—that is the basis for a real hope which both embraces and overcomes the world, and the ground for a love which is stronger than death and can sustain death." (from The Crucified God)
As humans, we tend to run away from suffering. We tend to cover it up, disregard it, and look the other way. Most of us would much rather turn the page or change the channel.
This very day, children are dying from man-made starvation, war, and genocide. This very day a child will (for all intents and purposes) be executed and someone will cry out "where is God?"
God will be there. He is always there. That is Gospel.
My question is, will we be there?
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