FAITH – The Foundation for Growth
Faith, Courage, Betrayal, Comfort, Support, Murder, Desire, Deprived, Outrage, Memories, Humiliated, Offended, Divinity, Hatred, Indifferent, Acceptance, Hope, Loyalty, Truth, Worship, Bravery, Courage, Self-Confidence, and Reliance.
These are all words that could easily be used to describe the book, Night, written by Elie Wiesel. When I think of this life changing book, faith is the first impression that comes to mind. This book is a record of Wiesel’s faith and his reliance on the Lord and it personifies the individual trials of the soul when persecution and humanity turn against one another. His faith also changes over time as he passes through the trials and tribulations one might expect during a time of war. In the beginning Wiesel’s faith was unquestioned as he held fast to the truths and intestinal fortitude that created his character. In fact, there was never a moment when Wiesel ever doubted his faith. By the end of 1942 and through the perils of war, his faith was tested on a daily basis. He was a survivor among the millions of murders of innocent lives of the many prisoners during the Holocaust. There are many people in our country today who have their faith tested as well, but this was a time in history where the worst kind of atrocities were exhibited and directed to the extermination of a race of people unlike we have ever seen in modern history. Elie Wiesel suffered through these trials and over time, through the wisdom that comes with age, turned them into opportunities for personal growth. There are different individual challenges and trails that we must over come everyday if we are to grow and prosper in this mortal probation, whether we believe in a God or not.
Elie Wiesel explains:
“In The Beginning there was faith – which is childish; trust – which is vain; and illusion – which is dangerous. We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekhinah’s flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and in his soul a reflection of God’s image. That was the source if not the cause of all our ordeals.”
Now Wiesel wrote this after the year of 1945. Had he lost all of his faith in God? Wiesel’s faith had dramatic changes during his stay at the various concentration camps from 1941 to 1945. He transitions from “blaming God” for his suffering, to eventually overcoming his tragedies and being grateful to God for his fortuitous survival. His tone changes throughout his experiences as he later comes to realize:
“Never shall he forget those flames which consumed my faith forever, and yet he also states, I have faith, faith in the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and even his creation.” Faith is the confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
An example of this faith is when he fell ill one winter with a severe foot disorder that rendered him unable to walk. Wiesel was apprehensive at the prospects of the surgery the Jewish doctor was recommending, but he put his faith in the doctor and went ahead with it anyway. It almost cost him his life as he lost large amounts of blood due to complications from the surgery. His faith was tried at the young age of 15 trying to survive the harsh winter’s at the most feared and evil concentration camp in the history of the world, Auschwitz.
I am fourteen years old and I could relate in some small way to what a young child might feel having to go through such a surgical procedure at such a young age. I had to have surgery on my back and my particular ailment had the potential to be dangerous to my health. They had to put me out on anesthetics and I can promise you that this was a huge trial of my faith. To be put asleep and completely trust my future health to a doctor that I didn’t even know was terrifying. Many thoughts rushed through the corners of my mind before the procedure:
What if the doctor had complications during the surgical procedures?
Could this procedure handicap me for my lifetime if I don’t heal properly?
I could relate and somewhat understand the terror Wiesel must have gone through before entering the operating room. I must admit that the experiences that I went through resulting from my surgery increased my faith. To blindly put your life in the hands of another human being is somewhat unnerving. Children had to grow up fast through the horrors of the Holocaust as they were exposed to the worst types of behavior that mankind has ever had to offer. The loss of innocence at such a young age goes beyond the comprehension of any experience we might face today living in the United States. Isn’t it interesting how with age and experience our perceptions can change so dramatically?
Isn’t that the point of life as we gain wisdom and lose our innocence?
Some refer to this as the progression of the soul. Progression affects every aspect of our character, especially maturity levels and our belief systems. These beliefs affect our entire life, and our life can affect the lives of others for the better. The ability to read about the life and trials of Elie Wiesel has affected many lives, including my own. I enjoyed reading the book, Night, and would recommend it to anyone.
Wiesel has not only encouraged me, but strengthened my faith in God, humanity, and the survival of the human soul. Even though we may hold many different beliefs, I have grown from his testimony of the power of faith through his experiences during the Holocaust.