It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
The gruesome headlines that often spin out of the Middle East, the relentless advance and political activism of scary ideas, the fear and concern about what the coming years will bring. We hear of varying levels of restricted freedom for Christians around the world, and the individual stories of human evil toward other humans never stop.
This is new to most of us. Coming of age in America—at any point in her history—means seeing churches with no fear of being shut down and taking for granted the unalienable freedoms of religion and speech.
But as Christians, we are part of a family who has seen these things—and so much worse—many times before. The brothers and sisters who have gone before us have faced countless hard and violent situations, and left behind their stories to guide us now.
“We could not run away from it,” Corrie ten Boom wrote years later in The Hiding Place. Just as our generation is faced with ISIS, abortion, and rising violence, hers was marked by a drastic fall into genocidal prejudice and hatred, capturing and murdering even children in their country.
So how did they do it? How did she? How did they live as Christians in a culture of such darkness—and can we live that way, too?
The youngest of four in a deeply spiritual family, Corrie had a happy and carefree childhood. Whenever she felt frightened or worried, her father would assure her of their love and her Heavenly Father’s love. She was secure in that.
But in her middle-aged years, the Nazi invasion of Holland changed so much. As the noose of genocidal law tightened, the Ten Booms and other Dutch Christians had to decide: how do Christians live in the midst of this? How do we respond? How does a Christian live under a government so undeniably evil?
Corrie and her family—and many others—decided they couldn’t just let it happen. They had to get involved. Within months, they became a busy hub of underground activity, following the stepping stones of leading God faithfully laid for them.
It was through Corrie’s tight-knit family that she clearly saw the dilemma: how a Christian should live in times like they were.
A debate arose among the Ten Booms one Sunday as they ate lunch in Corrie’s sister’s kitchen, and they worried about the place of truth-telling after a close call with Nazi troops. Was it right to lie to an unlawful, murderous authority? What if lives were at stake? But wait, another said. What about honoring God by speaking truth? Wouldn’t He take care of the results then?
“Love. How did one show it? How could God Himself show truth and love at the same time in a world like this?” Corrie wondered. “By dying. The answer stood out for me sharper and chillier than it ever had before that night: the shape of a Cross etched on the history of the world.”
And that’s how it would go: dying. Dying to rights. Dying to comfort. Dying to self.
For at least three people in Corrie’s family, it would be physical death. For other Ten Booms, it would be suffering the pain of those deaths, and the heartbreak around them they were powerless to stop. It would mean dying to their dreams for a peaceful, carefree Christian life.
But of course, for Christians, death is never the end of the story.
No Turning Back
Christians, we’ve been this way before. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have walked this road and roads much darker, leaving signposts along the way. Their stories remind us that, in Jesus, our stories have purpose, meaning, and hope. There is always hope.
Jesus walked our earth and breathed our air and took our sins and died our death—stunning His followers who expected a triumphant takeover of Israel’s territory. But little did any of them know that the true victory was brought through His death, and that His death was. not. final.
When He rose again, He brought forever hope and forever life and forever joy into our lives and our hearts. Nothing can stop us now.
As the headlines swirl and the stories get darker, we can know that our hope is just as strong as it has always been—on cloudy days and sunny ones alike. We can remember those who have gone before us, and the sacrifices they gave to follow Christ and serve Him well. As we face days of growing uncertainty, we can look to the Savior who died to give us an unshakeable hope.