The look on Sophie's face contained a glimmer of hope. In reply to the Nazi officer, she explained that she wasn't Jewish, certain that would make a difference.
"Then, you have a choice," he told her. But, what a horrible choice he gave her.
Such poor timing for the movie my brother and I decided to see! We had just bid farewell to another (single parent) brother and his two little children who had spent a couple weeks of vacation with us. I couldn't have loved little Amber and her year-older brother, Aaron, more if they had been my very own children. Their delightfully unique personalities wrapped around my heart as I tried to provide a bit of maternal comfort for them in the time we had together.
As the story on the screen unfolded, telling Sophie's story in flashbacks to World War 2, I couldn't help but put myself in her place. Her two children clung to her as the realization of the choice she had been given hit her. I heard myself sobbing aloud, astonished at the cruelty of the Nazi officer, and how any loving mother could possibly respond. There was absolutely no way I could have chosen one or the other of my brother's two children to be taken away. All I could think of would have been to tell the officer, "Take all three of us!" At least that way I could have provided some measure of comfort for the little ones by my physical presence.
Whenever I read or hear someone expounding on our supposed "free" will, memories such as this boil over in a bit of rage for me. Certainly we have choices to make in this life, but we definitely do not have any freedom in what the alternatives might be. Instead, we have to endure the consequences of impossible choices we are forced to make. Even refusing to make a choice becomes an option with repercussions.
So, where do we look to find hope in this vale of tears? In reality, our life journey is a walk on Death Row. Since the wages of sin is death, and the soul that sins dies, we know the destination waiting for us all, sooner or later. (At one point in time, I joked with family members that the only real "keepsake" gift to give to each other would be a cemetery plot!) That should end the argument for "free will" once and for all, I should think.
Yet, we do have hope! And, it isn't something fleeting, but the one Hope that endures beyond all our expectations.
In the words of the 23rd Psalm, the first that many a child memorizes, "Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me...And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." These words illustrate the comfort provided by the presence of the Lord. Psalm 71:5 adds: "For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth."
This encourages us that the only Hope we can finally count on belongs to the One who loved us so much that He not only walks with us now, but also provides the Door that opens beyond the grave. Just as God demonstrated that He obligates Himself to keep the covenant He made with Abraham (Genesis 15), so the Creator put on human flesh, becoming "God with us" to provide the redemption His creation needs.
Which reminds me of my friend Cindy's recent blog. In writing about her young daughter and the blessing of a loving para for her, Cindy made a connection between "para" and the word "paraclete." The dictionary defines both words as derived from the Greek Par¨˘kl¨Ątos, meaning "comforter, literally, (person) called in (to help)." When capitalized, Paraclete refers to God's Holy Spirit; the Comforter. And what a blessing, that in being vessels of His presence, we can be a para to come alongside one another in the comfort of the one Hope that lasts forever.
There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call -- Ephesians 4:4
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. -- Romans 15:13