God’s presence in the worst of situations

Hungarian Jews on selection ramp, May, 1944

Image via Wikipedia


It’s easy to sense God’s presence in a brisk sunrise or beautiful red/orange sunset. And God is even present with the hungry, the homeless, the sick and the imprisoned; as Jesus claimed in Matthew 25. But what about a prison camp? Etty Hillesum is a Jewish girl who kept a journal while at Auschwitz. She had epiphanies even in that hellish situation. 

“Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on Your earth, my eyes raised towards Your Heaven, tears sometimes run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude. And I want to be there right in the thick of what people call horror and still be able to say: life is beautiful. Yes, I lie here in a corner, parched and dizzy and feverish and unable to do a thing. Yet I am also with the jasmine and the piece of sky beyond my window.” 

How amazing! How is it possible to experience God’s presence everywhere, all the time, even in a prison camp? Prayer! Philip Yancey makes this observation… 

“I have learned to see prayer not as my way of establishing God’s presence, rather as my way of responding to God’s presence that is a fact whether or not I can detect it. Whenever I fixate on techniques, or sink into guilt over my inadequate prayers, or turn away in disappointment when a prayer goes unanswered, I remind myself that prayer means keeping company with God who is already present.” 

No matter what we face today, may we learn to live in the awareness of God’s presence. 


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Filed under intimacy with the Lord, Prayer, Suffering

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