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I do not understand.
Last Sunday, I suggested in my sermon that in his prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus asks God to keep his followers in touch with the reality of their essential nature as people whose true identity is shaped, not by the external realities of the surface circumstances of life, but by the hidden reality of God’s presence.
Readers who have a special interest in believing that faith in God is an escapist evasion of the harsh realities of life, like to suggest that the Jewish Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel lost his faith in God during his internment in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In his essay, “An Evening Guest” Elie Wiesel tells the story of the last Passover he celebrated with his family before his mother, father, and one of his three sisters were murdered in the death camps in Poland in 1944 and 1945.
It probably happens four times on a good day, a dozen on a bad day. I find myself saying to someone, “I just don’t understand…”
After posting this morning’s study of John 6:14,15, I returned to reading Elie Wiesel’s novel The Forgotten.
Early in his personal memoir of survival in a Nazi concentration camp, Elie Wiesel reports a conversation with his teacher Moche the Beadle.
“Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him,” he was fond of repeating. “That is the true dialogue. Man questions God and God answers. But we don’t understand His answers. We can’t understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself.”
“And why do you pray, Moche?” I asked him.
“I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.”
We are not made wise by the answers we know. Wisdom lies in our ability to hold the deep unresolved questions of life.
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