1 Peter 1:3-7 (excerpts) - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is ... kept in heaven for you. ... In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith ... may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
On July 11, 1944, Vilma Grunwald wrote an extraordinary -- a one-of-a-kind -- letter to her husband Dr. Kurt Grunwald.
In part, this is what she said:
"The famous trucks are already here and we are waiting for it to begin. ... You, my only and dearest one, do not blame yourself for what happened, it was our destiny. We did what we could. ... Take care of the little golden boy and don't spoil him too much with your love. Both of you -- stay healthy, my dear ones. I will be thinking of you and Misa. Have a fabulous life, we must board the trucks."
I said the letter was extraordinary and one of a kind. Here's why that's true:
1. John, Vilma's oldest son, had a limp and couldn't pass the tests which would have allowed him to stay with his father and brother. That meant his mother's letter was written just moments before the two boarded trucks which took them to the Auschwitz's gas chambers.
2. Vilma passed her letter to one of the Nazi guards at the camp and asked him to deliver it to her husband. That he did as she requested is remarkable.
3. The tone of the letter is remarkable. Vilma does not curse the government which had destroyed her family and would, in a few moments take her life, along with that of her son. She didn't complain about the injustice of her situation, nor does she throw accusations at her husband for not having tried to escape when they could. Instead of being preoccupied with the negatives, Vilma expresses her love, her support, her encouragement to those members of her family whom she prays will survive. (They did make it through the Holocaust. Dr. Grunwald died in 1967 and their son, Misa, who goes by the name of Frank, lives in Indiana.)
Now I tried to think what I would say to my family if I knew that the rest of my life was going to be defined in hours, or even minutes. I encourage you to do the same. No doubt we would narrow down the scope of our writing. We would divest ourselves of the trivial and concentrate on those things which would be of primary importance.
Looking at what Vilma had written, I believe I would add only one thing: do not let what you are going to see and experience destroy the living hope of salvation that you have in Jesus. His work and sacrifice have given you an inheritance in heaven which cannot be destroyed by even the most evil of men and the most severe of trials.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the salvation I have been given is the most precious gift I have. In difficult and troubling times, may I hold fast to my Savior. This I ask in Jesus' holy Name. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Kate Seamons for Newser on May 5, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: http://www.newser.com/story/258566/auschwitz-letter-thought-to-be-only-one-of-its-kind.html
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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