“What are we to say about these things?”
The title words, above, are Paul’s question—in his letter to the beleaguered young church in Rome—asked in a time when the followers of Christ were facing persecution, danger, doubt, and death. I find that Paul’s words are about the most eloquent response I can muster today on behalf of victims of torture, beheadings, and madness inflicted by the “Isis” movement on people of many religious backgrounds. “What are we to say…?!”
In an earlier instance of lethal madness, Elie Wiesel—then a teen-ager—was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, where many of his family were murdered. He survived to be a Nobel prize-winning author and witness for peace. In his book, “Night,” he recalls this episode from the camp: The inmates were assembled and forced to watch the hanging of a ten-year-old boy, executed for the crime of stealing bread. To the horrible scene, one old man exclaimed, “Now, where is your God!?” to which another answered, softly, “There he is, up there, hanging from the gallows.” The cross, indeed, is the sign that God suffers as we suffer.
In March, I will, with Paul’s guidance, seek—in worship, prayer, and preaching—to look more fully at this question in the light of our faith. (Paul, of course, does offer an answer to his own question, and ours: “We do not lose heart,” because nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)