Anita Dittman came to speak at my church the other night. She had survived one of the darkest experiences in human history. She had had her family stripped from her when she was still only a girl, really, living for months on her own, praying that her mother would survive the concentration camp. Then forced to work digging trenches for the Nazis while starving, dying from an infection that she had to hide lest she be shot on the spot. When she was finally "safe" in a hospital, the Nazi nurse tried to kill her. She was spared brutal rape by the incoming Russian soldiers only because of the wounds they saw when they stripped her naked. She had seen more indescribable evil and horror than most of us will ever even come close to...
And yet, the joy in her face shone brighter than all the pain.
And I left church Sunday night mesmerized. By her story, yes; by the incredible opportunity I'd just had to meet an 87 year old Jewish survivor of the Holocaust; but mostly by the joy in her face.
I came home, sat down on my side of the bed-- my heart communicating with God even while my mind raced-- and concluded: I want to be that faithful.
I want to stand in the face of this personal darkness and respond with faith. I want to pray and know that He hears and I can trust Him no matter the outcome. I want to face my personal Nazis and watch as God uses them to help me escape (she literally was given a train ride to freedom by some German soldiers after she escaped with 4 other girls from their work camp as the Russians closed in...) to freedom. I want to someday stand before a cloud of witnesses and shine joy from my face because of the grace of my God. I want to stand that firm in the love of Christ, that the deepest darkness can't muffle my praises because I KNOW that this tiny blip of time on earth where satan has reign for a time is just that-- the blink of an eye. And my King is bigger. Bigger than all this pain. Bigger than all this evil. Bigger than all this sin. Bigger than all this betrayal. Bigger than all this heartache...
I just forget so easily how little light it takes to dispel the darkness. The most miniscule flicker breaks the heaviest dark. How can I forget?
Lord, please, in the midst of it all, rise up in me faith like I have never known, and joy that shines out of my eyes midst the tears of gratitude that You see me, You love me, You never leave me-- not even for a moment-- in this inhospitable world. May I not only see your hand in this, but may I grab hold of it so firmly that my faith only increases in the face of evil. And one day, may I give Joy a face for another...
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."
-- Psalm 31:24
-- Psalm 31:24