DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I’ve read a lot in the past few years about the Jewish holocaust.  What a horrible and terrible chapter in the life of humanity!  One of the loudest questions of all time is asked about the Holocaust, and was echoed by Harold Schulweis in For Those Who Cannot Believe:  “The Holocaust mocks my faith.  For at the core of that faith is the conviction that God breathed into the nostrils of human beings an inviolable human soul, that God created the human being in His image and in His likeness.  The taunting dissonance between that faith and the facts of the Holocaust disturbs my belief.  The picture of a child hanged in the presence of parents in the concentration camp brings to mind a rabbinic commentary on the hanging of a criminal based on a verse in the book of Deuteronomy 21.23: A criminal sentenced to death and hanged must not remain overnight upon the tree because it is “a reproach to God.” Why a reproach to God?  The rabbinic answer is offered in the form of a parable: Once a noble king had a twin brother who violated the law and was hanged on a tree in the public square.  People passing by the corpse of the king’s twin took him to be the king and shouted, “Behold, the king is dead!”  The king was humiliated.  

The parable is breathtaking.  God and man, at some level, are as it were twins.  To deface the image of man is to blaspheme the Creator of that image.  God is not raised by lowering the human image…Who before the memory of cremated children can declare the twinship of God and man? …But where was the Adonai (the Lord) in Auschwitz?  Where was the power and mystique of Adonai within the hell of the Holocaust?”

“Where was Adonai in the Holocaust?  Adonai was in Niuvelande, a Dutch village in which 700 residents rescued 500 Jews, including 100 Jewish children.  Adonai was in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose citizens hid and protected 5000 Jews under the inspired leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme.  Adonai was in the rat-infested sewers of Lvov, where Polish sewer workers hid 17 Jews for 14 months.”  His list goes on, and he finally says: “Holocaust scholars now estimate that there were between 50,000 and 500,000 Christian rescuers.  Whatever the number, there were too few.  Sadly there are always too few moral heroes in history.”

“How ironic that our children … know the names of Klaus Barbie, Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler but not the names of those who risked their lives to hide and protect the Frank family….When the rescuers are asked “Why did you risk all this?” they typically respond “What else could I do?  What would you do?”

For today, let’s just ask ourselves the questions that Schulweis’ book asked: “That question places a mirror to my soul.  Would I open the door?  Would I hide this pursued pregnant woman?  Would I take care of her needs?  When rations during the war were so meager would I risk getting extra food without raising suspicion?   Would I take an infant into my home whose cries might reveal our hiding place?  What would I do with their refuse or with their bodies after their death?  Stefa Krakowska, a Polish peasant, hid 14 persons in her home, ranging from age 3 to age 60, in a home in which a simple pail served as the toilet.  When an older Jewish woman fell sick and knew herself to be dying, she turned to Stefa.  “My God, my dead body may bring disaster to you. What will you do with my body?” She feared for the others’ safety.  She died.  At night, secretly and in stages they buried her dismembered body in Stefa’s garden.” 

“Sadly, there are always too few moral heroes in history.”  What a haunting observation.  But there is good news, too. To be a moral hero you don’t have to be a king, wealthy, powerful or attractive.  What you do have to do is be faithful…and that’s something that any man or woman can choose to do.  You, and I, can be moral heroes for the cause of Christ.

I’m often afraid to speak out because God’s point of view isn’t popular.  As a group, Christians today lack the moral courage to speak, live and act on our convictions and on what we know to be truth.  Let’s be the moral heroes that this world so desperately needs and that God wants us to be.  Let it never be said that in our day there were no moral heroes.  Let us be those heroes to our friends, family, co-workers and even our enemies.

PRAYER:  Give us moral courage to follow You through life and death.  Let us, as we stand around the campfire when You are on trial in this world, not deny You, but let us speak Your name boldly, proudly, humbly.  Let us be the heroes You need us to be in our own day and age.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/25/15 – They Watched Them Die

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DayBreaks for 5/25/15: They Watched Them Die

“Many have been there.  Your grandfather, parents, perhaps aunts, uncles, cousins, sons and daughters – they were there.  They saw friends killed by the enemy.  It changed them. To see people die is a horrific thing.

“Nothing can erase that from your mind.  No one can understand it fully unless you have been there.  I have not been there, but I have heard the stories.

“They knew that it was inevitable that some would die.  In every war, some have died.  One a day like today, we honor those who have died standing up for others.  Perhaps you know people who know people who died in wars.  Maybe you know people who died.  We grieve with you as you grieve with us.  Wars are horrific.  In every war, some have died.

“Think today about the current wars and the next ones.

“There will be more of this: more killing and more people we know who know people who will give their lives as an ultimate sacrifice.  It will not end for a long time.  We don’t know how long, and we don’t know how many more will die.  It is heartbreaking and depressing.

“What is our hope?  In every war, some have died, except in one war.  In that war, only One died.  His Father watched him die.  He died, so that those who believe would have life, the life that is eternal.  All who believe have life, even after death.

“He is our only hope for ending all wars.  How will he do it and when?  We don’t know.  In the meantime, we have to live as followers of Him and think deep thoughts about overt and hidden wars, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear arms and conflict.

“Today, on this Memorial Day weekend, we remember and honor those who have died in all the wars to protect us, and we remember the One who have His life to end all wars.

“To those of you who watched them die, I want to say we are thankful that you are still here.  Don’t let us forget your friends.” – Author Unknown

Remember well this day those who no longer walk among us.

PRAYER: Thank you, Prince of Peace, for those who also stand watch over us and protect us.  Thank you for their courage and their sacrifice, and we pray you comfort all who have loved them and lost them.  Thank you for ultimately winning the war against war and we long to see that become reality. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/12/13 – Reflections on Veterans Day

DayBreaks for 11/12/13 – Reflections on Veteran’s Day

Fading From ViewEphesians 6:12 (NLT)   For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

As I write this, it is still Veteran’s Day, 2013.  Facebook has been blanketed with displays of thanks and honor for those who have served our country throughout our nation’s wars and in regular military service.

In my photo blog on Sunday (http://twolfgcd.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/honor-them/), I shared some statistics of the number of soldiers (best estimates according to informed sources) who served in the times of our various wars who are still living today.  Did you know that the last American survivor of WWI died (Frank Buckles) in just 2011?  Out of the over 16 million who served during WW2, there are only about 1.5 million still living – and that number is declining at the rate of several hundred each day.  Heroes may live in memory for generations and centuries – but not so with the flesh.

I read a blog today that was written by a brother in Christ who is also a veteran of our recent wars.  He was, of course, calling for us to honor those who have and who are serving our country.  But he made another point that should be obvious to us all: we are surrounded by veterans of the spiritual warfare that rages 24 hours a day since the creation.  Like the soldiers who serve the United States of America, they won’t and don’t live forever here.  But how often do we stop to honor (or even thank) them for the price they and their families have paid for their selfless service?  As valuable as physical military service is and as much as they are to be honored and recognized for it, the spiritual war is no less real and certainly as deadly and vastly more important as any earthly war as the stakes in the arena of spiritual warfare are eternal.

Who do you know that is a spiritual veteran that you need to thank?  When is the last time you truly thanked your pastor, elders, deacons, teachers, the person who discipled you, your mentor for what they’ve fought for and how they’ve lived?  Is there a better day than today to do it?

Call them.  Tell them.  Thank them.  Because as with the soldiers of our armed forces, those spiritual heroes and veterans are passing, too.  Tomorrow may be too late to thank them for what they’ve done for you!  Remember that the martyrs didn’t die just for Christ, but for each of us to give us encouragement and an example to follow in their footsteps.

2 Timothy 2:3 (NIV)  – Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for fighting the greatest fight of all time, and winning it so we could have our freedom!  Thank you for those who have also fought for us throughout our lives.  Bless them for their service and help us to give them their due honor, too!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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