Ellie Wiesel’s book, “Night” describes the execution of a young boy in the midst of the horrors of a Nazi Concentration Camp. Wiesel writes, “One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call, SS all round us, machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel. The three victims mounted together onto the chairs. Three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses. “Long live liberty!” cried the two adults. But the child was silent.”
“Where is God? Where is God?” someone behind me asked. At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over. There was total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.” Wiesel describes how the two adults die quickly, but the boy is so light that he struggles for half an hour, dying in front of the rest of the camp. Behind him, Wiesel hears the same man ask, “Where is God now?” Then Wiesel writes, “And I heard a voice within me answer him: ‘Where is God?’. Here is God . . . God is hanging on the gallows.”
There are no adequate answers for the “why” of this kind of suffering and evil. There are no easy answers to rise of Islamic extremism leading to the slaughter of Christian students in a university in Garissa, Keyna, or the rampage of ISIS with its horrors left in its path. There are no easy answers for the suffering of cancer, or tornadoes which roll over a city. But the “Where is God” in the midst of suffering we do know. God has chosen to live among us, sharing in our daily journey, walking with us day by day. The mystery of suffering remains. Some day we will understand what we cannot now. Till then we have this hope given to us in Jesus Christ.
On Sunday we celebrated Easter, that moment when for all time God overcame the power of death. We have a risen Savior who lives among us. Through the centuries men and women, young and old have testified to the presence of the Living Lord in their lives. They tell of a grace which has been sufficient, for each need. People of faith have lived difficult lives courageously, vibrantly, even victoriously, for they knew they were never alone. However many times they were knocked down, God would be there to raise them above the place they fell. Christ offers this same gift today,coming as a friend wherever, whenever hearts are open to receive the gift.
We are an Easter people, confident that God can turn a life around . . . Certain that death and sin are overcome. We know that God who loves us, and has come in Jesus Christ, will have the last word. We are an Easter people, people of hope. We are followers of a risen Lord.