Don’t Be Overcome By Night

Neal Pollard

Gary, Carl, and I visited the United States Holocaust Museum today.  There is no experience with which to compare this harrowing, sobering, and unfathomable tour of one of the darkest periods of recorded history.  That one human being was capable of treating another human being the way the Jews were treated defies understanding.  We saw pictures and videos of the pogroms, boycotts, concentration camps, executions, and experimentations.  An entire ethnic group across an entire continent was seized with terror for over a decade.  To have witnessed such atrocities and survive must have scarred and wounded the psyche.  Perhaps no one who survived this genocide saw more than the Romanian writer Eliezer (Elie) Wiesel, who spent time in the Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald, and Gleiwitz Concentration Camps.  In fact, he only reluctantly became a writer to share his dark experience at the hands of the Nazis.  In his first book, Night, he wrote,

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

I do not stand in judgment of Mr. Wiesel’s pain.  Who of us will ever know its depths?  But his words demonstrate how pain and suffering can undermine and even destroy faith.  Paul told the Romans, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).  We will not be cast in the throes of despair Wiesel has known, but when we encounter trials, difficulties, and suffering may we keep our faith in God strong.   It may be hard to love our enemies (Mat. 5:44), but may we maintain our love and fidelity to our God–no matter what!

6 thoughts on “Don’t Be Overcome By Night

  1. Hi Neal,
    My mom grew up in Germany during the WWII holocaust. She never talked much about it, of course she was German. But she did say that they came and took her father away one night ..then brought him back a few weeks later. Something to do with his refusal to join Hitlers army. she was only 14 and was sent to live in the country away from it all with her aunts.
    What a terrible time it msut have been for everyone.

  2. As I have read many books on the Holocaust and meditated on what it teaches, it just emphasizes to me the need for the gospel today. We are one step away from genocide happening today — nothing much is said of Darfur and so much of other countries given to genocide. Our only hope is Jesus!
    Thank you for all you do to spread his message.

  3. Dawnielle

    I took my boys (11&7) to Dachu earlier this year. How completely humbling this experience was for them and for me! As we visited the grounds I was so busy taking pictures that I didn’t really get a chance to read many of the captions by the pics. It was only after I returned home and began uploading the pics to Facebook that I became sick to my stomach at just how cruel man can be towards one another. It was too much and I was unable to load all of the 300+ pics that I took.

    Mr. Wiesel’s pain is realized in his words. Just recently (end of September) my cousin was brutally murdered in broad daylight. I always counted myself as being a strong Christian. I have been thru many, many things in my short life, but losing my cousin this way completely thru me off balance where my faith is concerned. So much so that I would get really upset when people would say to me, “Lean on the Lord”, “Don’t forget whose you are”, “Be angry and sin not”…I mean I know all of that. What I don’t know is how someone could be so cruel to another human being. My cousin dying surely does NOT compare to the years of torture that those who suffered at Hitler’s hands experienced, but I can completely understand Mr. Wiesel’s words. I have not recognized myself as of late. I feel like I have just been completely uprooted.

    Prayerful that in time I can get back to the old me.

    1. I cannot imagine that pain and it WOULD be a faith test. You need no platitudes or reprimands from others. I will pray that you can hang onto your faith as you wrestle with your hurt. The cruelty of those like the Nazis and the murderers of your cousin is only comprehended in the light of what man will do apart from obedience to Christ. Thanks for sharing.

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