Rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test everything; retain what is good. Avoid any semblance of evil. May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness. May he preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul, and body, irreproachable in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls us is trustworthy, therefore he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager forced into hiding from the Nazi’s, has become known worldwide through her diary. Along with her mother, father, sister, and several other Dutch Jews, she spent 761 days in the secret annex of a warehouse in Amsterdam which kind people provided for the family’s safety.
There is no way to sugarcoat those days or the ones of horror that followed when they were discovered and shipped off like cattle just two months before the allies freed Holland. First, she, her sister, and her mother were sent to Auschwitz. The only reason Anne and her sister escaped the gas chambers was that, at ages 15 and 17, they could work hard. Her mother died there of exhaustion and starvation. Later, she and her sister were transferred to Bergen-Belsen, dying just days apart, of typhus, a disease carried by lice that were eating their bodies.
Anne loved to write. She wanted to be a journalist. So, on her 13th birthday, before moving into the annex, her parents bought her a red and white checkered diary, something she treasured and used during their period of hiding. No doubt she would have made a great writer. She could look into daily life and see humor even in the midst of severe anxiety, deprivation of all kinds, and sadness. She had more than the natural exuberance of a teen, though that was surely present as well.
Only a beautiful heart can understand what joy in the midst of sorrow means. She wrote,
“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”
—And again she wrote—
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.”
We are blessed to be able to commune with God, to rest in Him. Anne did not share the privileges we have, but during captivity she found, in faith, joy in everyday moments.
Anne Frank is our fifteenth Ornament of Grace.
Observing the Beautiful Ornaments
How can your faith help you through times when sickness, sadness, or other trials keep you otherwise in captivity?
What did St. Paul mean when he said to “Rejoice always!” How can you do this?