At the time I was writing a novelette about a girl in Ravensbruck concentration camp during World War II. As a child I was fascinated with that time period and with concentration camps in particular. Yet something baffled me. What gave Christians, people who knew without a doubt they would spend eternity in heaven, the strength to keep fighting? To live through such horrible suffering? I don’t mean suicide; I mean why didn’t they just give up and let their bodies stop trying, stop fighting for each breath?
Little did I know that years later I would be in my own kind of prison, trapped within my body, suffering pain and exhaustion every day of my life. Years later, the answer to that childhood question would be vital to my own well-being.
As a teen I sought God in my questions, and He gave me an answer. Two answers, actually, as to why His people kept fighting for this life which can be so despicable at times.
First of all, we live for others. There are so many people on this earth who do not yet have that assurance of an eternity of joy. Many of them rub shoulders with us every day. We live, we endure suffering for one more minute because in that minute we just might have the chance to point someone to salvation.
|Corrie ten Boom|
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)Betsie did ultimately give up her life for the Jews she'd gone to jail to save. For most of us, however, I think that "giving up" looks more like it did for Corrie. It means sacrificing what we would prefer life to look like in exchange for doing the Lord's work here on earth.
The second reason God showed me those people were able to keep living brings me back to my opening paragraph. They chose to eat cake. They chose to find joy in God and in life, no matter what horrible things they were going through physically and emotionally.
I named my novelette “I Will Dance” because my character found that joy. She knew that God was still good, that there were still things in life worth praising. Even as she stood with painful toothpick-thin legs on that filthy prison floor, she would choose to dance.
She also knew that the day ultimately would come when she would dance before Jesus on those golden streets of heaven. “I will dance today. And I will dance forever.”
You have turned my mourning into dancing... that my glory will sing Your praise and not be silent. (Psalms 30:11a, 12a)
When I die I hope no one says I will “rest in peace.” No, I did all the resting I need here on this earth. I hope you all will say, “Dance in peace, girl, dance!”