Gracious, this book, Night by Elie Wiesel is one that I struggle with reading but love. It is a simple read and it is not very long. But. Just but. It is packed with horror, devotion, beauty, fear, and survival.
Elie’s story is so heart wrenching. The thought of my son, who is now at the age Elie was when he was taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, makes my heart sink. You read about the ebbs and flows of his physical and mental state. The devotion to his father and the yearning of his mother’s hands on his face. He kept a picture of his sister, Tzipora, etched in his mind.
The massive amounts of physical trauma that he endured, yet the parts that stand out to me are the prisoners who were hanged. It wasn’t enough for the SS officers to shoot them, they had to hang them, as well. Man, woman, child. I cannot imagine the images that were burned in his head.
How Does One Survive?
Seriously, how did he survive? Starvation. Malnutrition. Lice. Issues with his feet. The beatings. Watching his beloved father be beaten. Listening to his dad die and wondering what kind of God would allow this horror. That is what the Holocaust was…a horror that occurred in this world. All because someone is Jewish, they were hated.
How does one man, Hitler, have such a deep hatred for the Jews? Honestly, how did he come to such power to have so much influence to create such chaos? I will never know but I can certainly pray that it will never repeat itself.
We have been to the Holocaust Museum in DC and for as many people that were there, you could hear a pin drop. No one spoke, at all. People calmly and quietly filed through the room after room, just taking it all in. We will never know the magnitude of the sites, smells, and events because we were not there. Yet, this museum honors the people who suffered and died with walls upon walls of pictures.
This is a book that everyone should read. Also, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Hiding Place. Anne Frank is a good book, though I have not read it in years. That may be my next one! By reading these books, you are supporting the authors and their families. It also gives you a better understanding of racism and hates at its core.
The Power of Intentional Forgiveness is something that is not lost on me. Forgive is a verb or an action. You are actively doing something. It means to grant a pardon for or absolve something; to cease to feel resentment against (as in an enemy). I love the beauty of forgiveness.
Forgiveness DOES NOT mean that we are somehow giving permission for another person to hurt us or excuse the choices of another towards us. It is, however, a release for us. We are releasing that pain and memory so satan can no longer use that against us.
God is Clear
That He is the ultimate Judge and Jury. He states in Exodus 14:14 “the Lord will fight your battles, you simply need to be silent.” Thankfully, He knows what is ahead of us and He already has the PERFECT provision in mind for every situation. We just need to stop, be quiet, and get out of the way.
I am pretty quick to forgive but I am not quick to forget. That is a fault of mine. It is hard for me to just shut that infraction out of my mind. Well, I guess it depends on the situation. It is like the sting of the pain is gone, but the scar remains. So, in satan’s true form, he presses on that scar and he picks at it. What a vicious cycle.
The Hiding Place
As I was reading this book, it was SO impressed on me about the power of love and forgiveness. Seeing the person that hurt me with a different set of eyes. With the eyes of Christ.
I have been talking with a friend and we have worked through this concept a whole lot lately. The end of this inspiring story of Corrie ten Boom struck me so much that I did a screenshot of it and sent it to her.
Preface to a Section of the Book
Let me preface this quote by giving some context. Corrie and her family were turned in to the Gestapo for hiding the Jews and helping them. They had served in several different and horrific concentration camps. They had lost their father, their nephew, and many friends to these camps.
At this moment, in the story, they found out who it was that turned them in. Corrie is wrought with anger for this person. She is beyond hurt, mad (understandably) at how a “friend” could harm their family in such away.
This is the conversation between an angry Corrie and her sister Betsie.
Corrie: Betsie, don’t you feel anything about Jan Vogel? Doesn’t it bother you?
Betsie: Oh yes, Corrie! Terribly! I’ve felt for him ever since I knew – and pray for him whenever his name comes into my mind. How dreadfully he must be suffering!
*****Excuse me people, but what freaking kind of angel is Betsie to “feel for” and “pray” for this man who caused SO much death, destruction, and pain. Yes, I yelled that while I was reading.*****
Corrie’s Thought Process After this Conversation
“For a long time, I lay silent in the huge shadowy barracks restless with the sighs, snores, and stirrings of hundreds of women. Once again I had the feeling that this sister with whom I had spent all my life belonged someone to another order of beings. Wasn’t she telling me in her gentle way that I was as guilty as Jan Vogel? Didn’t he and I stand together before an all-seeing God convicted of the same sin of murder? For I had murdered him with my heart and with my tongue.”
Emphasis Added Was Mine
For real. To put Corrie ten Boom, who sacrificed her family and her life to save others in the same category as Jan Vogel… a man who killed, literally, several humans out of devotion to Hitler and the cause is insane.
Then, that sentence that I bolded. God does not distinguish between sin. Sin is black and win. You either sin (gluttony, lying, adultery, homosexuality, murder (the physical kind), murder (spewing hate in your heart), stealing, the list can go on and on) or you don’t sin. We are human, we sin. That is why we needed a Savior to die on the cross to save us from our sins.
She despised this man and this man killed and tortured many. In God’s eyes… the boy sinned. Let that sink in for about 3 minutes. I need a swig of coke. She killed with her tongue and heart. He killed and tortured with his hands. Yet, both created in His image. Both loved by God. Finally, both sinned in the eyes of God.
I’m having a hard time with this, can you tell?
“Lord Jesus, I forgive Jan Vogel as I pray that You will forgive me. I have done him great damage. Bless him now, and his family.” That night for the first time since her betrayer had a name, I slept deep and dreamlessly until the whistle summoned us to roll call.”
For. Real. People. Absorb that prayer. Adapt it to add the names of the people who have hurt you.
Friends who abandoned you in your greatest time without a word. These same friends make you question all the things that you could have done wrong and you are eaten up with pain and confusion. God is NOT the author of confusion. Let that crap go. Forgive!
People who rip your children out of your arms claiming you are an unfit parent because they are jealous and want these precious beings for themselves. Hateful humans want to remove children just because they feel like it, with no regard to what is right and wrong. Forgive.
So Many More Scenarios
Pastors who you trusted that hurt you and your family. Accusations are thrown around like confetti. Allowances of idle gossip within the church to try and accuse you of being an awful parent to kids from hard places. Pastors refusing to help others, accusing you of affairs, chastising you in dark stairwells because you are trying to protect your children. Pastors who blamed a child for someone who preyed on them and molested them. You are asked to leave yet the accuser stays and he is free. Forgive.
Men who claim to love Jesus and the law who underhandedly try and destroy your family. They do so while still talking of their love Christ and family. They lose no sleep. Let me tell you…what man meant for evil, God meant for good. Forgive
A family who disowns you for falling in love. Co-workers who treat you like crap to your bosses but never to your face because there is no basis for the hate they are spewing. Forgive.
Oh, this woman goes on!
Am I speaking my pain? Are those deep dark chambers of my heart being unlocked? Let me tell you. I have a situation, right now, that I have buried so deeply for over a decade. It is completely fine tucked away in the back corner of the attic.
God has a sense of humor. In being content with my pain being hidden away, He decides (cause He is a funny God) that He is gonna bring it all right back up. Just like vomit. What this man did was atrocious and unforgivable by my standards.
Yet, there is God. Only God could orchestrate what is happening. I have played out every scenario of meeting this human and all the things that I can say. Honestly, I want to make him feel like shit on the bottom of my shoe. No lie.
Clearly, He sees that I can’t move forward until I move past this. Again, forgiveness is not about giving permission for that person to do what that person did. It is about releasing control that satan has over it in my heart.
I know that.
Now, He has aligned the stars to where it is time for me to face one of my deepest hurts. It is like a train coming down the tracks. I see it. Yet, I don’t need the ticket right now. This train is going to run over me and my family.
God is my Protector, Defender, Shield, and Stronghold. May He be my words. I pray I can see through the pain of the past to see the hurt this man must have gone through and is going through. May I show Him the love of Christ.
Right now, my flesh wants to bring down a world of pain. Yet Christ died for him. Forgave Him. What more does He need to give?
This book. Dangit. The Hiding Place is a book that every human should read. It is not a long book, about 16 chapters, and 269 pages. Yet it is FILLED with glory, triumph, forgiveness, faith, destruction, abuse, poverty, illness, and HOPE.
I have NEVER cried reading a book. Furthermore, in my defense, I have never had to bite my lip because I’m fixing to lose it while reading a book. This book. Dangit. I feel like that needs to be my entire review.
The first part of the book talks about Corrie getting her new dress. They are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of her father, Casper’s, watchmaker shop. She stands in front of the mirror looking at herself.
She states that girls now are wearing their skirts knee-length and hers was still 3 inches from her ankles. As I read that, I’m thinking she is a teenager who may be “coming into her own” type of situation.
Then, I laughed out loud. She stated to herself that she wasn’t getting any younger and that the new dress made her look more critically of herself. She was 45 years old, unmarried, with a waistline that had long since vanished.
I guess I was surprised to see that she was not much younger than I am while she is reflecting on her appearance. Giggle…I giggled out loud in the car while picking up my kids.
Then It Moves On
It talks about her life, her family, and her love for Karel. The agonizing disappointment when she realized that her life would not look like what she wanted it to look like. Yet, she was content living and loving her family well.
She was not “university” educated but she was educated in her own right. Her father’s deep love for her mother and his children was inspiring. How he was so consistent with spreading the love of Christ to first his family, then others was something that struck my heart.
He saw the good in all people. There were no differences. Just a plethora of humans all created in the image of Christ. Oh, how I wish I could be that way. I’m not one to really see a difference and I’m drawn to people with harsh lives or some sort of disability. Those “less than” people catch my eye. I want them to know they are seen, accepted, and loved.
The details of the abuse, trauma, fear, and living conditions of NON-Jews who helped Jews is astonishing. The treatment of Jews was something I simply cannot even wrap my head around. I mean…I cannot even conceive of the sights, sounds, touches, smells…death and fear. Sends shivers down my spine.
Yet faith, hope, love, and forgiveness were not far from the minds of the ten Boom family. How they orchestrated what they did and the people they saved is awe-inspiring to me.
Quotes I Marked
“There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s World. The center of His will is our only safety.”
“Childhood scenes rushed back at me out of the night strangely close and urgent. Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”
“My job was simply to follow His leading one step at a time, holding every decision up to Him in prayer.”
“Joy runs deeper than despair.”
I will plan on reading this more. There are moments that I can look back on, throughout my life, that I could have done differently. Honestly, there is a different flavor to those memories. I wish I had a reset button.
God has definitely spoken to me through this book. What a lesson. May I continue to heed His words and see His people through a new lens of life.