Great writers write from the heart.
This was especially the case with 1970 Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
He spent eight years in a forced labour camp in the Arctic for criticising Stalin, lost his family and had been told by the doctors in the Gulag he had terminal cancer.
With all this happening he reached the point where, ignoring the guards, he threw away his shovel, sat down, and decided that there was no use going on because he was going to die anyway.
He records that he felt a presence next to him and looked up and saw an old man he had never seen before, and would never see again.
The man took a stick and drew a cross in the sand in front of Solzhenitsyn.
It reminded him that there is a power in the world that is greater than any empire or government, a power that could bring new life to his situation.
He picked up his shovel and went back to work.
A year later he was unexpectedly released from prison.
Some years later, while in exile in Central Asia, he was cured of the cancer.
This man, who was on the brink of giving up, not only received the Nobel Prize but went on to write The Gulag Archipelago — an expose of the network of Soviet concentration camps.
Whether that mysterious man was an angel or not doesn’t really matter. What was important was that he was sent by God to transform a man’s life.
The choice, though, was ultimately up to Solzhenitsyn as to whether he took any notice of the somewhat strange actions of the old man or decided to continue in his hopeless state.
This made me wonder how often similar events have occurred in our own lives that we’ve chosen to ignore and later on complained to God that he doesn’t care and has ignored our prayers.
God does care.
His love is constant.
As it was for Alexander Solzhenitsyn, God’s love is with us even in the depths of seemingly hopeless situations.
He reaches out to us often in extraordinary ways and sometimes in very simple ways.
If we know him and love him, we will recognise his hand in the circumstances.
And we will know and experience his love.
- George Deeble, Euroa Christian Fellowship