Posted: 22 Jun 2011 12:00 AM PDT
By Jon Walker
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it . . . . But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17–18 (NIV)
In his book, Night, Elie Wiesel describes the unholy madness he faced during World War II as a prisoner in the German killing-camp Auschwitz and then as one of the few survivors of a death march to the concentration camp at Buchenwald.
Wiesel, an orthodox Jew, lost his faith in God and in humanity as, day by day, he fought to survive in a catastrophic pit of hell where, as one prisoner told him, “. . . There are no fathers, no brothers, no friends. Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.”
When he was finally liberated by Allied Forces in 1945, Wiesel was just 16. He’d witnessed the slow death of his father; his mother and sister were presumably dead; and he felt as if everything had come to an end: “. . . Man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night” (a reference to the Jewish tradition that a new day starts as night falls).
Wiesel records with honesty his anger at God for appearing to ignore those who cried out for the Almighty’s protection. The evil of Auschwitz and Buchenwald is so mind-wrenching there are no adjectives adequate to convey the horror.
And who can judge a crumbling faith under such circumstances, particularly when we know our faith often crumbles for far lesser things?
The stuff of faith is facing the fire, perhaps the most difficult lesson in the school of Christ. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we stand firm before the blazing furnace, confident the God we serve is able to save us, but also confident if we are not rescued, God’s thoughts for us are not evil but to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, based on NKJV).
We may not be rescued by God, but we will continue to worship him when we allow our heartache and our horrible circumstances to crowd us closer to the One who grieves with us because he loves us more than any other and more than we could ever know.