On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Remember Corrie ten Boom and Her Faith in Christ

Standing up for what's right is often much harder than we like to admit.

By Liberty McArtor Published on April 25, 2017

Yesterday was Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day — a day for Israelis to remember the brutal annihilation of 6 million of their predecessors by the Nazi regime in WWII.

While International Holocaust Day occurs every January, it still behooves those around the world to pause in solidarity with Israel on this day. After all, the Holocaust was not just the Jews’ problem. It was everyone’s problem. And just as it was not only Jews’ problem to solve back then, it is not only the Jews who should remember.

One of the biggest reminders of this for me is Corrie ten Boom. She understood that the Holocaust, which killed 11 million total, was not just the plight of her Jewish neighbors. As a Dutch woman living with her family in Holland, ten Boom could have continued her comfortable existence for the duration of the war. Quiet. Out of the way. Nodding complicity to save face — and her life. But she didn’t. She and her family took Jews into their own home, hid them, and helped them escape to safety. Eventually, she paid the price by laboring in a concentration camp. 

Would I be as Brave as Corrie ten Boom?

I was introduced to ten Boom’s story at a young age. Our family would hunker down in the living room during evenings to read her memoir The Hiding Place aloud. The 1975 film adaption was a prized edition of our movie library. Her story fascinated and convicted me. Like memorable stories do, it also made me uncomfortable.

Reading about and seeing on screen (the doubtless mild interpretation of) the horrors she experienced often left my stomach churning in fear and disgust. At the same time, I was in awe of her strength. I hoped that, if ever faced with such a crisis, I would have the same courage — no matter the consequences.

But that’s what made me uncomfortable, and still does. When studying atrocities of history or watching movies about heroism I like to imagine what I would do. I’d stand up. I’d fight for justice. I’d risk my life.

Standing up for what’s right is often much harder than we like to admit. We can only do so effectively through Christ’s strength.

But somehow the flicker of resolve in my chest at the end of an inspiring book or film isn’t convincing enough. Because while I know my desire to stand up for what’s right is sincere, I also know my weakness is real.

How faithfully do I stand up against even small instances of injustice? How many times do I stop to help someone in need? How often do I tweet news articles about starving children or persecuted Christians, and then actually do something about it? The sad truth is, I don’t do these things enough. 

Strength From Above

Something else that makes ten Boom exemplary is the fact that she acknowledged this weakness in her own life. When I read about ten Boom and consider her life, one of the most remarkable things to me is her steadfast trust in Jesus. 

Surely there were days of panic as she worked with her family to keep Jews safely hidden from the Gestapo. (She helped save over 800 Jews — and the six Jews in her house at the time of her family’s arrest remained safely hidden and were later rescued.) Surely there were moments of fear as she labored in a concentration camp for nearly a year. Surely there was despair as she watched her sister die and learned of her father’s death in captivity.

What got her through those times? However naturally tough she might have been, her own strength was not enough, because she was human like the rest of us. Any brief look at her writing is enough to prove she quickly gave the glory to God. A few particularly humbling words of wisdom:

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”

“It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.”

“When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus.”

Ten Boom was fiercely devoted to her Savior. Out of that devotion flowed the strength she needed to accomplish his work and survive one of modern history’s darkest hours. 

We Cannot Fight Injustice on Our Own

When we hear stories of heroism, it’s natural to wonder if (and hope that) we would rise to the occasion. As Christians, our very next step after such impulses should be to renew our own devotion to Christ. We can’t know the future. But we can know our Savior — and trust that he will give us strength and resolve when we need it. Just as he gave ten Boom.

Because the atrocities of the past belong to all of us. And so does the responsibility to seek justice today.

On days like Holocaust Remembrance Day, it’s easy to make the “Never again” promise to ourselves. It’s easy to decry those who “did not speak out” and assure ourselves of our own moral superiority. But part of remembering is facing the fact that standing up for what’s right is often much harder than we like to admit. And that we cannot do it on our own.

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