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Summary: God uses people and processes to work toward the end of suffering; God uses us.

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Where is God Now?

Exodus 3:13-15

04/17/05

2423 words

13 But Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ’The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ’What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?"

14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." He said further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ’I AM has sent me to you.’"

15 God also said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ’The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

Where Is God Now?

Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Romania. He lived in a Jewish village. The first years of World War II left his village relatively untouched and the Wiesel family believed that they were safe from the persecutions suffered by Jews in Germany and Poland.

Then, in 1944, the Nazis arrived. Most of the people in the village were deported to concentration camps in Poland. Fifteen-year-old Elie was separated from his mother and sister immediately on arrival in Auschwitz. He never saw them again. He managed to remain with his father for the next year as they were worked almost to death, starved, beaten, and shuttled from camp to camp on foot, or in open cattle cars, in driving snow, without food, proper shoes, or clothing. In the last months of the war, Wiesel’s father died. After the war, the teenaged Wiesel found a home in France, where he learned for the first time that his two older sisters had survived the war.

For ten years, he observed a self-imposed vow of silence and wrote nothing about the concentration camps. In 1955, he set down his memories in Yiddish, in a 900-page work entitled Un die Welt Hot Geshvign (And the World Kept Silent). Later, Wiesel compressed the work into a much smaller version, which he titled Night,

In his book Night, Wiesel describes hangings. These were a regular feature of concentration camp life. For the theft of a piece of bread, for talking back to a guard, for slacking off at work, for practically anything, the Nazis had one punishment—hanging.

But Wiesel describes one group of hangings that was particularly awful. Three gallows had been erected—three hangman’s nooses over three chairs. Two adults and a child were to be hanged. The child was a young boy with a refined and beautiful face. Thousands of prisoners were lined up to watch the hanging. All eyes were on the child. Wiesel says the child “was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips.”

“’Long live liberty!’ cried the two adults. But the child was silent.”

Someone in the ranks behind Wiesel asked, “Where is God? Where is he?”

Then the chairs were kicked over. The two adults died immediately, their necks broken by the snap of the noose. But the SS hangmen botched the job on the child and he hung there for half an hour struggling against slow strangulation. The prisoners had to march past him and look at him. Wiesel said that when he marched past, the boy was still alive, though just barely.


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