Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Grief... And Hope

This week our family has been reading about the Holodomor. If you're like me, you've never heard of it before, but now I'm kind of wondering why we didn't learn about it in school.

Oh wait. I know why. When I was in jr high, the curriculum went through a revision, and we did not have "History" we had "Social Studies." I'm still not sure what the difference is, but I think it meant we only studied events in history that furthered the agenda of the textbook writers or the people who paid them. And even then, we never actually made it to the end of the book, which is where the stuff that happened in the 20th century would have been told.

Anyway. This is not a rant about public school curriculum, although that does sound like fun.

I want to share what I learned about the Holodomor, which was a tragedy that happened in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933. The Soviet government came in and confiscated all the food, even searching houses and pockets. There is the story of one woman who was found with a small handful of wheat in her pocket and was sent off to Siberia and never heard from again.

Thousands of people starved to death. Whole villages were wiped out from hunger and sickness.

There was one village where a man proposed to his fellow villagers that they sow their fields more thinly than usual, and save the extra wheat to live on. They did that, and he set up a village "dining hall," where everyone in the village got at least a bowl of thin soup every day. He himself went around to the houses daily, checking to see how everyone was doing, giving the weakest ones a little extra food. Thanks to him, the village survived, while all around them people in other villages were dropping like flies. He was a hero.

And then when spring came, one of the survivors reported him to the Regime, and he was shipped off to Siberia, never to return.

It still causes the adrenaline to rise in me. It makes me so angry and frustrated. What kind of person would be so ungrateful as to betray the one who saved their life?

And then-- what kind of government would starve their people into submission?

And what kind of people would defend and support that kind of government?

What kind of God would allow that kind of government?

But then, in the midst of my questions, I remember other stories. Stories like the one handed down through my husband's people, of the Mennonites in the Ukraine where they had lived for over a hundred years. Fifty years before the Holodomor, the Mennonites were told by the government to either Russian-ize or get out. Many of them got out, including the forbears of my husband's family line, emigrating to the United States and Canada. The ones who stayed became very wealthy, buying up cheap everything the ones who left couldn't take with them.

Later, many of those left also, moving to the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.

Shortly after, the government crackdown came. A few years ago, Hubby's parents took a trip to Ukraine to visit the places where their families came from. The villages were completely gone, and they only found maybe half a dozen people who remembered the Mennonites. They had been wiped out.

So is there a moral? Perhaps this: God had his eye on those people and preserved the ones who listened.

Why did all the rest who weren't Mennonites have to die? I have no idea. Why does God save some and not others? I don't know. Can we ever know? We can't see the whole story.

Last night Swede came over to show us some scary things he was learning about our situation here in America and in the world. All about wicked people in power, people we've never heard of, power behind the power; and the economy crashing, and terrible things happening. If it's all true, we are in trouble, and we had some pretty heated discussion last night, trying to figure out how to think, what to plan, what to do.

Then, this morning I opened up the morning prayers from the Divine Hours and this is what I read: (with my thoughts in red)


The Midday Psalm
I Will Sing Praises to the God of Jacob


We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks,* calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds. "I will appoint a time," says God;* (is this YOUR time then?) "I will judge with equity. (of course-- when you judge it will be RIGHT) Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking,*(that's exactly what it feels like) I will make its pillars fast. (Really? You will hold us steady?) I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more,'* and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns; Do not toss your horns so high,* nor speak with a proud neck.' " (What a relief; you will say this to evil people who want to take more power) For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west,* nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains. It is God who judges;* he puts down one and lifts up another. (You mean I can trust that God is setting up leaders and putting them down?) For in the LORD's hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out,* and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs. (the WICKED-- does this mean the righteous will be spared?) But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.* He shall break off all the horns of the wicked; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted. (Somehow, the wicked WILL be taken out of power, and the righteous WILL be taken care of.)
Psalm 75

The Refrain

I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel. (Thank you, thank you, God, for showing this to me today. It's exactly what I needed.)
Psalm 16:7



What encourages me as much as the psalm itself is realizing that God cares enough about me to somehow manage that the very thing I need to hear today was prepared for me a long time before today.

2 comments:

Beck said...

Many Ukrainain refugees fled to my part of the world (northern ontario), so we actually did hear about the Ukrainian genocide a little bit in school. A very, very old lady who had lived through it came and spoke to one of our classes, I believe.
It is a scary time, to be sure, although I might take a lot of the scarier information with a grain of salt. God doesn't want us to live in fear of tomorrow.

Ornery's Wife said...

We have never been able to trust the government but we have always been able to trust in God. He has made provision, and as long as we are in tune with His Holy Spirit, we will be warned, and provision made for us to continue living abundantly.

Fear does nothing to aid in hearing the HS, only turns our eyes away from God. Instead, consider all the good things He has done, His wondrous works and how through many frightening times, the church has not only emerged, but become stronger.

It's sad that it often takes calamity and hardship for us to relinquish our "control" and depend on God, but never fear, for He is always with us, awaiting the moment of our surrender and trust that He has acted on our behalf.

It will be the joy of the Lord that will keep the church afloat over the coming years, not fear induced frenzy or hoarding of wealth and possessions. God will continue to bless the faithful, and Christ followers have no fear of judgment--we are already found righteous through His blood. Glory!!
tm