Not alone

God is not in heaven: he is hanging on the cross.
Love is not an otherworldly, intruding, self-asserting power—
and to meditate on the cross can mean to take leave of that dream

Dorothee Sölle
On This Gallows

(blooming wild shrubs / Julie Cook / 2016)

There is a sobering reaccounting of a tale by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz turned author and activist, taken from his book Night.

The tale is found within Dorothee Sölle’s reflection On This Gallows and is here, paraphrased…

Mr. Wiesel recounts one of many tragic episodes…of how several SS guards rounded up the camp’s prisoners and hung three of their members in front of them…for no apparent reason but that they could.
Two of the victims were grown men and the third was but a boy.

Mr Wiesel notes how quickly the two men died but not so for the young boy.
He struggled and suffered for nearly thirty minutes before succumbing to the slow torturous strangulation.
As Mr Wiesel stood, witnessing this numbing atrocity in a long line of atrocities, he hears a voice from behind him coming from the assembled crowd…
“Where is God? Where is he?”
As the boy struggles, he hears again…
“Where is God now!”

Mr Wiesel and the other prisoners were gathered to witness another round of senseless deaths.
But this time it all seems so much more barbaric, completely incomprehensible.
A boy slowly and horrifically dies…
A single vocalized lamentation, representing the silent question screaming in the hearts of all those gathered…how, why, where…. is offered up to the empty void of hopelessness…
As the single answer is heard echoing within Mr Wiesel’s head…

“Here he is—He is hanging here on this gallows…”

And so He is…
He is here now…just as He was then…

God is indeed in the midst of each and every horror and atrocity.

He is present in each and every lonely pain filled moment of agony and emptiness.
He is every bit a part of our struggles as we are ourselves…

He is not watching coldly from some remote vantage point as so many imagine.
Not as some maniacal puppeteer who finds sick and twisted pleasure watching the suffering of those so far removed.
He is not far removed…

Quite the contrary…

He is in the unimaginable
the unspeakable
the horrific
the sorrow
the agony…

He was given up…
to suffer
to share alongside us in our suffering
to hang on a cross
to die along side each one of us…

As we in turn, are now allowed to rise with Him…
In His final vanquishing of death…

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

Psalm 118:17

10 comments on “Not alone

  1. Wally Fry says:

    Great well written words as always friend.

    I have an offline question for you by they way. Zap me an e mail


  2. Lynda says:

    A great testimony of faith! We always need to remember that God is with us, we are not alone!

  3. says:

    So hard to focus on the cross, but it is the only way we can realize the price that was paid for our salvation. Lovely post once again!

  4. Oh my gosh, this literally took my breath away! Wow, this is so incredibly powerful. This one shall be shared as well. Love and hugs. 🙂 ❤

  5. DeniseBalog says:

    Julie, so hard to read. I don’t often go the whole way in this story. Traveling twice to the Holocaust museum in Israel makes the reading oh so more visual and hard. You did a beautiful work of sharing the two messages. The Cross, the only place we come to know the heart of the Father and the Love of His Son. He knows. Thank you for the reminder of His love.

    • It is so hard Denise as I have been to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin—in the direct shadow of Hitler’s “bunker” and I have spent a lifetime for reason’s I know not why, reading the stories of those who survived and the stories of those who did not…I have always been drawn to God’s presence in all of this—for a long time, I too wondered where God was…and as I aged, I came to know where He was…and where He remains to this day…
      Blessings Denise and thank you for your kind words…

      • DeniseBalog says:

        Israel was hard enough, real to the core. I can’t imagine going to Berlin. One thing I do remember as we made our way through Yad Vashem, coming through the horror so very proud of our Country and my Dad who served in Germany in WWII. Oh that we would step up and support Israel again. I am ashamed of what we have become. How we have dishonored those who died for this horrible waste of life. Thank you again for sharing.

      • I so totally agree Denise—God will not favor a land that will not favor the Land of his Word…I wonder when we in the US will come to realize that…

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