Just a few days ago I stood inside the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, completely overwhelmed with emotion as I stared blankly at pictures of dead bodies piled up in concentration camps during World War II. Piles and piles of men, women and children treated like monsters and eventually killed for their faith. I stood there and tried to imagine the heartache Mr. Frank (Anne's father) experienced the day he learned that he was the only survivor of the eight people that were in hiding with him for two years. I can't imagine how he felt learning that his wife and two daughters died in those concentration camps. As I stood in the rooms the eight people hid in, I just took in the emptiness. The rooms are empty at Mr. Frank's request to signify the lives lost both of those in hiding and the thousands and thousands of Jews killed in the concentration camps. As I tried to imagine how he felt the first time he stepped foot back in those rooms, I had to wonder how in the world he went on living. And then I realized he devoted his life to human rights and religious freedom. He used his daughter's strength and writing to propel him forward. He used it as a reason to live. A purpose bigger than him, bigger than Anne, and bigger than a war.
"In spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation, consisting of confusion, misery and death....I think...peace and tranquility will return again." - Anne Frank
Anne used her diary as a way to be honest about her feelings on the war and the way she coped with being in hiding. In a way, writing gave her hope. I cannot imagine what it was like to live in hiding for two years...having to be silent every moment of the day. Living in fear that they might be discovered...and the fear of what would actually happen to them all if discovered. She wrote about her dreams and plans for when the war was over. Personally, it was so tough to read through her diary as she wrote about all the things she was going to do when the war was over...and know all along she didn't survive to live out her dreams. Trying to realize what it was like, to be persecuted and tortured for faith, was almost impossible. And as I stood in this small museum, either out of naivety that it could not or arrogance that it would not, I was so thankful the world would never have to experience or witness such horror again. Because the war did come to an end. And living as a witness to these events seemed surreal. Unimaginable. Not remotely possible.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Well although the war ended, clearly the battle rages on. And the efforts in human rights and religious freedom pursued by Mr. Frank in Anne's honor are just as needed today as ever before. Just a few days ago, I had a hard time imagining what it was like to live in a time when people were actually killed for their faith. And honestly, 'killed' is describing it nicely. A time when life was not sacred. And today I realized we are witnessing the beginning of the same exact thing. A disgusting, horrific, unimaginable lack of respect for life in Iraq. The same senseless acts of killing men, women and children...actually beheading children....is very real today. And my heart just breaks. And a part of me is so ashamed that just a few days ago, I actually had the audacity to think this wasn't possible. That 'we', the world as we know it today, is better than during World War II. But I was wrong. And I fear for the people losing their life because of this hatred. So I will be praying tonight...for their safety. For their peace. For their hearts. And giving thanks for my freedom. Because I don't have to hide in a small dark room and I am not worried about getting my head chopped off tomorrow because I prayed tonight.
The war might have ended but the battle lives on.
"Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs."
Hope, faith and a hiding spot,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.