Monday, July 12, 2021

A refugee’s gratitude

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Recently many news outlets published a story about a man, Eric Schwam, who died at the end of last year, at 90 years of age, and whose entire estate was bequeathed, not to his family or friends, or to an organisation, but to an entire village: Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, in southern France. The reason: he was an Austrian Jew, who had arrived there with his parents as a 12-year-old in 1943, fleeing from the Nazis. 

The people of the village hid them in the village school, where they remained, undiscovered, until the end of the Second World War. Mr Schwam intimated that the bequest (reckoned to be about two million euro) was "in gratitude for the welcome he received 78 years ago".

I found this story very touching, for at least two reasons. The first was to think of the selflessness and sacrifice made by the people of that village to save this family from almost certain death (and many others too, for it is estimated that they took in two and a half thousand Jews during World War II). A plaque outside the school records the villagers bravery, and states that they acted "in peril of their own lives". 

It reminds me of an even greater example of selflessness and sacrifice, made by God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We were sinners, and not just in grave danger, but absolutely certain of eternal death, to suffer forever the righteous penalty for our sin against God, in the Lake of Fire. Yet He loved us and willingly, selflessly, He came into the world, not at the risk of dying, but with the certainty of it, by laying down His life, voluntarily, as the sacrifice that was needed to free us from the judgment for our sins. "Christ hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice" Ephesians 5.2; "He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" Heb.9.26; "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5.8; "Christ died for our sins He was buried He rose again" 1Corinthians 15.3,4.

The second reason I was moved by the story was to think how highly this man had valued the sacrifice that had been made for him, all those years ago. The stipulation in his will was evidence of his profound gratefulness. Yes, there were very strong grounds for his deep appreciation, but possibly there were other people who were sheltered by the same villagers, but who never expressed any thankfulness. 

How sad, to think of such ingratitude for such a sacrifice! Yet the Lord Jesus did so much more, in sacrificing Himself for the people of this world, and how sad it is that so few are thankful to Him. What about you? Are you, like the majority, indifferent to Him and to what He has done? He is looking for a response from your heart. He is not asking you to show gratitude by giving your money, or doing works, but simply by coming to Him in all your need as a sinner, with thankfulness for the work He did on the cross to save you, turning away from your sins, and receiving the gift of eternal life, which is freely available to you, today. If you do, you will be able to say, truthfully, along with all those who are saved: "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us We love Him, because He first loved us" 1John 4.16,19; "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" 2Corinthans 9.15.

Used by courtesy of Assembly Testimony 


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