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‘He turns our mourning into dancing, He turns our sorrow into praise’

Marcella van de Bovenkamp - 18 April 2018

How is it possible that one day we can be in deep mourning and the next we are rejoicing and celebrating? How is it possible that in a place of death and destruction there can be joyful singing and dancing?

I just got back from my trip to Poland together with my mother. Even though I had been to Auschwitz-Birkenau 7 years ago, the magnitude of the place overwhelmed me again. It rendered me speechless. What can one say in such a place? How can one understand what took place here, or even imagine what it would have been like? In the morning we were guided through Auschwitz I  where you find thousands of kilos of human hair, shoes, suitcases, glasses, toothbrushes etc. all of these once belonged to an individual. An individual with a name, a family, a life… To walk on the ground besides the train tracks, to stand at the selection point where so many were send straight to the gas chambers and the most difficult moment for me to stand beside a pond of water containing thousands of kilos of human ashes… I’m still processing as you can understand.

But then the next day I was standing in those same places with an Israeli flag draped over my shoulders, walking together with almost 15,000 Jews from all over the world. I joined them in the “March of the Living”. We walked together with them and 60 Holocaust survivors from Auschwitz I  to Auschwitz-Birkenau. And there in that place of death and destruction I saw their joyful faces, proudly wearing and holding the flag of Israel and singing the Israeli national anthem “HaTikvah” (the hope). Tears of joy ran down my face, how is it possible to see joy and celebration in such a place? But it is possible, because the Jewish people live and darkness did not have its final say!

As I returned to Israel this week the day of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers and terror victims) commenced on the night of April 17th, followed by the beginning of Yom Haatzmaut on the night April 18th. And again, we see mourning turned to dancing as we go from a day of remembrance/commemoration to celebrating God’s faithfulness to His land and people for the past 70-years (since the re-birth of Israel in 1948), and of course His faithfulness for a thousand generations.

As I contemplated on my earlier question I had to think of Isaiah 61. Here we read:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor (theplanting of the Lord, that He may be glorified). They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches,  you will boast. Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so, you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” (Isaiah 61:1-9)

He does this so that He may be glorified, for the display of His Splendor! Note though that in the re-establishment, the coming to life again, there is a task for the “stranger”, the “foreigners”, for us the Christians! Let’s comfort them in their mourning and let’s dance together with Israel to celebrate God’s faithfulness!

Blessings from Jerusalem,

Marcella van de Bovenkamp

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