Greg has recently returned from a three week trip in Europe, and today he shares stories of how the Kingdom message of a Jesus-looking God, radical love and non-violence is truly spreading all over the world. The joy of his travels, the opportunities to see the work of fellow Kingdom people, and the vast beauty of God’s Earth as seen on the Alps came to a crashing halt with his visit to Auschwitz. Sharing his experience at Auschwitz, Greg addresses the timeless question of “Where was God in all that suffering?” and teaches that God is always on the inside of pain and suffering, not as the author of it, but as the Redeemer of it. And he reminds us that, in the end, Christ, not evil, has the final word and he will be (and is) victorious.
Greg had the opportunity to visit Switzerland, Austria, and Poland and during his time there, he met Kingdom people who are doing radical things for God. He was encouraged to see the Kingdom message of love and nonviolence and a Jesus-looking God to be spreading throughout Europe. He was reminded that he is not alone and that we are all part of a growing movement that is changing the world one person at a time. After having met several individuals and couples doing beautiful things for the Lord, the joy of Greg and his wife Shelley reached an all-time high when they stood on the Swiss Alps and saw the vastness of God’s beautiful earth all around them. That spiritual high came to an all-time demonic low as they visited the concentration camp Auschwitz.
As he visited the gas chamber and saw the scratch marks on the walls from men, women, and children trying to gasp for air from a tiny hole at the top, he had to reconcile his faith at the gates of a literal hell. He had to face the question that has been uttered by millions over dozens of years. The question “Where was God in Auschwitz?” When people ask this question, often they ask as though God is up in heaven, smiling and causing the Holocaust. And out of moral integrity, a lot of people say they can’t believe in that kind of God. And that’s why we look to Jesus because he is God fully revealed. When we read Isaiah 53:3-4, we read of a God who leaves his glory in order to enter into our suffering and to bear our pain as though it were his own.
Greg shares an excerpt from Night by Elie Wiesel, where Wiesel recalls a hanging of a 10 year old boy on the gallows in Auschwitz. But due to the light weight of the boy’s body, it took 10-15 minutes before the boy finally choked to death. As the Jews were forced to watch this boy’s slow death, people began to mutter under their breath, “Where is God? Where is God?” To which someone replied, “He’s up there on the gallows.” Greg goes on to explain that Jesus so identifies with our pain, with the Curse, with the horrid that he experiences it from the inside and that we are not alone.
This is what the Cross is all about – about God entering into the very worst humanity has to offer and experiencing it from the inside. All because of his love for his people. God does not cause evil; he is not above evil. He is right there, entering into solidarity with his people at the gates of hell. He’s there to be a comfort and to bring healing and redemption. Greg encourages us to lean on Christ because he’s there, and he understands exactly what we’re going through.
In the end, pain and evil and suffering do not have the final word. God’s love and his victory is the last word. What he began he will complete, and he will restore. The Cross was victorious, and God will someday wipe away every tear from every eye and put an end to all sorrow. And just as Jesus empathizes with us, we too are to empathize with others, to enter into their suffering, and to let them know they are not alone. As followers of Jesus, we always have hope and joy because we know what is coming – a New Earth where the Kingdom of God will reign in its fullness.
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