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“Princes persecute me without cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your words.” (Psalm 119:161)

With the rise of Adolph Hitler in 1933, Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander, both of German-Jewish heritage moved their family to Amsterdam to escape the escalating Nazi persecution of Jews. In Holland, Otto ran a successful spice and jam business. In 1942, he began arranging a hiding place in an annex of his warehouse in Amsterdam where his family took shelter out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They occupied a small space where they lived in rooms with blacked-out windows with another Jewish family and a single Jewish man. The entrance to the secret annex was hidden by a hinged bookcase where former employees of Otto and other Dutch Christian friends delivered food and supplies obtained at high risk. On her thirteenth birthday, Anne, the second daughter of the Franks, began writing a diary relating her everyday experiences and observations about the increasingly dangerous world around her.  In June 1944, Anne’s spirits were raised by the Allied landing at Normandy, and she was hopeful that the long-awaited liberation of Holland would soon begin. She wrote inspirational words once remarking that, “”We’re all alive, but we don’t know why or what for; we’re all searching for happiness; we’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same.”

For two years, Anne Frank kept a diary about her life in hiding that is marked with tenderness, humor, and insight. She made her last entry on August 1, 1944. Three days later, on August 4, their seclusion ended after twenty-five months with the arrival of the Nazi Gestapo. Anne and the others had been given away by an unknown informer, and they were arrested along with two of the Christians who had helped shelter them. They were sent to a concentration camp in Holland, and in September Anne and most of the others were shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.  Otto Frank was the only one of the ten to survive the Nazi death camps. After the war, he returned to Amsterdam and was reunited with one of his former employees who had provided covert support to his family. She handed him Anne’s diary, which she had found undisturbed after the Nazi raid. In 1947, her writings were published by Otto in its original Dutch as Diary of a Young Girl. An instant best-seller and eventually translated into more than 50 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank, as it later came to be known, has served as a literary testament to the nearly six million Jews who were silenced in the Holocaust.

The history of persecution is as old as human life on this earth. Certainly, there were many examples of persecution in the early Christian church. Jesus said that, if they persecuted Him, they would do the same to His followers: “they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name” (Luke 21:12). The Apostle Paul stated that Christian persecution is to be expected, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (2 Timothy 3:12). Today, millions of Christians are being judged, tortured and even killed for their love of God.   It makes praying, reading the Bible, and worshiping with fellow believers perilous to do. It is easy to turn a blind eye when the atrocities of persecution do not happen under our nose, but there may come a time when persecution will be a stark reality for all who choose to live the Christian life. In those situations, it will be difficult to look at the oppression as a blessing as we personally face fear and feel lost. However, Jesus reminds us – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Even in the times when we face it, we can press on and not become disheartened. In the midst of her own persecution, Anne Frank penned these words: “As long as you can look up fearlessly into the heavens, as long as you know that you are pure within…you will still find happiness.” Finding happiness in the midst of persecution requires a strong faith in a loving Creator. Recently I heard about a parent trying to educate their child about the gifts of God. They said that bottom-line He provides us with three things: a body, a spirit, and a soul. We should begin each day by doing the following – stretch for your body, put a smile on your face for your spirit, and remember to thank God for your soul.  That’s pretty good advice. Consider it as you begin today’s journey by echoing the words . . . ‘Dear Diary’.

REFLECTION: Why is it important for us to affirm that God is sovereign, even in times when we witness persecution? How can we find “the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12)?  In what ways can you serve as an example to others by demonstrating happiness during persecution?


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