‘We have seen…’ Eye witness accounts – whether of horrors or of glories – are hard to argue with. It’s not just about words and logic and fact-telling. It’s about the tears and integrity of the tellers. That’s what has the power to melt our hardened hearts to the truth of the message.
This week I’m taking five minutes with the Five Minute Friday #fmfparty gang to write unedited on a theme sent out by Kate Motaung. The word-prompt today is OPEN.
(You can join in too – here’s how.)
Since Holocaust Remembrance Day, I’ve been catching up on BBC iplayer. For the first time, I committed to watch the epic Shoah – over nine hours of witness testimony from that era. It’s extremely hard and deeply moving watching.
I did know, really. I knew the basics about the ‘Final Solution’ and the extermination of the Jews in World War II. Knowing the facts are one thing. Seeing the human impact is another. Facts didn’t touch my heart like watching Shoah did. Not only have my eyes been opened, but my heart.
I watched a Polish diplomat* struggle to put into words some things he saw decades earlier. Things he’d blocked out from his memory as too horrific to recall. He broke in the telling of it. As his tears poured down his face, he described sights in the Warsaw Ghetto that he wished hadn’t been reality. He described it as ‘not a world’. Outside, life went on as normal. Behind the walls of the Ghetto, indescribable human suffering. He had witnessed something heart-breakingly unimaginable, and became an advocate to the nations for the saving of the Jewish people.
His eyes had been opened.
That’s the cost, you see. To truly see – with eyes and mind and heart open – this may break our hearts, and shock us out of a comfortable ‘normality’. A normality we can live with, which demands no response from us.
Or we can see the truth of the suffering around us, and respond.
I’ve seen similar tears on the eyes of others – those who have seen God at work in miracle power. They are tears of disbelief, their sense of ‘real’ shaken to the core. They have seen his glory, seen him do the impossible, inconceivable, the unimaginable good. Peering through the crack of a curtain into beautiful realities previously unknown, everything in their hearts and minds melts into submission.
This is the God we serve. He is not distant to our world of suffering, but came down into it to make all the difference. Some have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only**. It changed them forever.
*Jan Karski, a Christian man who worked for the Polish government-in-exile.
Shoah, whilst being hailed as one of the best documentary films of all time, also came under fierce criticism from the Polish as a biased account that indicts the Poles as anti-semitic, neglecting to show their sacrifices for the Jews and suffering under Nazi occupation.
This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
the message of the man whose eyes see clearly,
4 the message of one who hears the words of God,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,
who bows down with eyes wide open:
5 How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob;
how lovely are your homes, O Israel!‘ Numbers 24
**6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. John 1