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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Dawn Johnson

Hope Can Be Small But Powerful

Jar. When you hear this word what do you think of first? Perhaps your mom canning her delicious peaches. Maybe that little Jimmie from third grade who collected the coolest looking bugs. Possibly your own collection of rocks or colorful fuzzy puff balls. Whatever it was, it was special to you! It held value, meaning and a memory of joy you cannot quite explain in words.

Even a small seed can one day become a large tree. And "even the smallest person can change the course of the future." -Gandolf

Let me tell you about quite a different jar. A jar that held the hope of thousands... even in its tiny form.

In one of the darkest times in the history of the world, World War II, the light in everyone's lives seemed to be entirely dead. Hope was something even many of the strongest men could not bear to hold on to. It was suffocated and tortured and starved out of them like a candle flame being completely extinguished.

Amidst this wickedness, tragedy and horror, and to the great surprise of the Nazi's, the light had not died!! It was very much alive!! It was seen in the arms of the brave Christian men and women who took in Jewish children and pretended they were their own at the possible cost of their own lives. Hope was found in the concentration camps where there were friends who didn't let you quit; taking one day of suffering at a time. It was found in the soldiers who risked everything to fight against such evil. It was found in the hearts of all those Catholic nuns who kept Jewish families in hiding. And it was found in a woman named Irena Sendler!

Irena's father had died earlier to the war. He had contracted Typhoid fever after treating several patients who had this same disease. His final words to his sweet daughter were these: "If you see a man drowning, you must stop and help!" To this end Irene dedicated her life. She was a Polish social worker and, might I add, an amazing hero of mine. At the beginning of the war, the Nazi's sectioned off a part of the city of Warsaw for the mere purpose of loading all the Jews into it. It became known as the Warsaw Ghetto. From here the trains would come to take the Jewish men, women and children, one group at a time, to one of the most deadly concentration camps of the holocaust.

Irene worked in the ghetto handing out food and blankets. She wanted to save them all. Her mother reminded her of the importance of saving even one. And so she started this impossible, suicide mission and she chose... hope! She confronted the dark and chose to believe there was still light! Little did she know, by trusting in God to help her do what could not be done, miracles would transpire!

She formulated a secret group called the Zegota. A group that had one mission in mind; to save as many precious lives as they possibly could. When it became apparent that adults could not be safely and successfully smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto, Irena's group formulated another plan. With heart wrenching pain she convinced the Jewish mothers to give up their precious children so they could get them out safely. The mothers knew they had to do it to save their sweet babies. One day at a time, one child at a time, each mother wept as they gave their child to Irene, not knowing if they would ever hold them in their arms again.

The Jewish children were then secretly taken in by Catholic nuns and Polish families. At times, in Irene's home. Had she saved one? five? ten? No! She saved 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto! Yet she still felt defeated as she thought of all those she couldn't save. And the anguish on those mother's faces as she pried their babies from their arms. Was hope actually dead after all?

Not too far from the Ghetto stood a tree tucked beside a building. Hidden in the ground between the roots of this tree were several jars filled with the names of each and every one of the 2,500 children she rescued and whose family they had been placed in. A scary record to hold onto if fallen into the wrong hands. Irene knew this and took extra care to keep it safe and keep it hidden. Even when tortured by the Nazis for information... this courageous woman kept that sacred secret. Because she knew these jars held something more precious than names on a slip of paper. These jars were proof of the love a mother has for her child. These jars were symbols of the sacrifice so many brought during such dark times. And these jars held the one hope that these amazing Jewish mothers would one day hold their children again! One day their tears of extraordinary grief will turn to tears of extreme Joy!

Irena lived to be 98 years old. Nearly all the children she saved survived to live a long life. In fact, one of the babies she smuggled out in a tool box, was her nurse until the end of her life. She did not let people call her a hero, but rather asked us to honor the mothers who gave up their babies in order to hold on to the hope of a brighter day for their children. Hope in a world where families are together, never again to be separated by war or death. And hope for a life lived with love, peace and purpose.

Yes! There is no doubt! In one of the darkest times in world history, it was the simple light and love of good people who dared to try that saved thousands of souls. And in the midst of starvation, disease and horror, one woman and her jars lit a hope in the souls of thousands.

Jar. A simple thing. Hope. A small thing in the face of the daunting darkness and trials of our day. Yet with such simplicity, we see the power of God working his miracles in the dark; like a small candle that can shine light into the darkest soul. And as we learn to hope and trust this small light in our lives, it grows. It grows to become a flaming torch that will never fail you. And this blazing flame of hope will be your constant comfort, healer and guide until one day we see the sun rise on the horizon.

Yes! There is no doubt! Even a jar filled with precious contents can have powerful influence. So I have created a special jar of my own and filled it with topics of all kinds that uplift, strengthen, and cause laughter, light and hope. Every week I will draw a random topic from my Jar of Hope! From which I will write new posts that I hope will bless lives in some small way.

Yes!... There is no doubt! Hope can be small but oh so powerful!!


Now I would love to hear from you!....

What Jars do you remember growing up?...

(collections, foods, special treasures?)

What fun memories do you have from them?

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Nov 21, 2018

I love this article. Thanks for sharing it. Very inspirational! We collected beans and beats growing up. But I collected interesting pieces of arrow heads.

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