To use a phrase that describes the overwhelming significance of an event or challenge, “Covid-19 has taken all of the oxygen out of the room”. If you look around at the daily flow of news and information, to say that Covid-19 and related stories dominate the news would be a gross understatement. So what can you do to move this out of the way and focus on something that provides a broader appreciation for life and how one can respond to stressful and, at times, unforeseen circumstances? Taking a look at the extraordinary response of someone who experienced bitter suffering of a different kind may serve to provide such an appreciation. We find such a response several decades earlier in the form of a crumpled note.
As the Allies moved across Europe during WWII to liberate countries from Nazi occupation, a unit came upon a place known as Ravensbruck. This was a concentration camp constructed by the Nazis exclusively for women. Here, nearly 50,000 women were exterminated. As the arriving soldiers slowly made their way through the camp and covered their noses as they encountered the stench of dead bodies, disease, and excrement, they found a crumpled note lying next to one of the dead women. It said the following:
“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. But do not remember the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember the fruits we brought thanks to this suffering—our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”
In Every THING
One can only try to imagine the terror and horrors faced by the woman who penned these words. It is beyond one’s own human capacity to comprehend how someone experiencing such appalling conditions could be capable of authoring such words of courage and forgiveness. And yet she managed to express them, the source of which could only have been a glorious and gracious God who is capable of understanding such suffering.
Think on this the next time you find yourself possibly slipping into a pity party or allowing the stress of this pandemic experience to take you to a bad place in your mind and heart. Your suffering may be difficult at multiple levels. But it likely does not come anywhere close to what this woman was experiencing as she opened her eyes daily to an environment many of us would like to forget. God knows and holds the future. Whatever one’s individual future is beyond Covid-19, God is already there waiting for you. He will give you what you need. As Holy Scripture says…and reminds us:
In every thing give thanks, 1 Thessalonians 5:18a
Thank Him today for the blessings yet to come. This will work to keep your heart and mind where they need to be.