The Holocaust: Where was God?

This past Saturday I took a group from our church to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Each time I visit the museum I leave with a renewed sense of the magnitude of the horror that was visited on the Jewish people. My mind cannot grasp the inhumanity of man that was the holocaust. But I also struggle with God. How could a God of grace stand by as His chosen people suffered such brutality, torture and death?

Intellectually I understand that as a race of people humanity has turned away from God. I understand that sin, not God, is the root cause of the problem. I understand that the death camps, the gas chambers and the ovens demonstrate just how sinful man can be without God. But I still struggle – not intellectually but emotionally.

Even though I always come away from the museum in an emotional dilemma, I also come away with two other thoughts. The first is that given the right set of circumstances, we all have the potential for great evil within us. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, the heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?  (Jeremiah 17:9). It is only as Christ changes our hearts that we can overcome the wickedness that is in us.

The second thought is that God in His grace was there in the midst of the holocaust. One of the displays in the museum is simply titled Rescuers. On the wall are literally thousands of names of people who, at great personal risk, rescued Jewish people from death. While the average person visiting the museum will read the list of names and admire those people for their selfless acts of sacrifice, as Christian we understand that behind each action God was at work. God often uses people, even wicked people, as avenues of His grace. Pharaoh (Romans 9), Cyrus (Isaiah 45) and Herod (Matthew 2) are examples of God fulfilling His plan through the lives and actions of people that we would not expect Him to use. God’s grace often comes through channels that we least expect. The issue is not the channel of grace but the Giver of grace.

Life is filled with experiences that we cannot emotionally reconcile with a God of grace. Sometimes the problem is that we focus so much on the hurtful experience that we miss the healing evidence of His grace. Periodically we need to be reminded that His grace is sufficient (1 Corinthians 12:9) for whatever we face in life. We need to be reminded that even in the worst of life, if we look hard enough, we will find grace.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve


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