The Book Thief

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Yesterday and with a good friend, we went to see the movie The Book Thief. A very hard, thought provoking film to watch, yet necessary, and not one to be easily forgotten.

Set in Germany during the Holocaust, this story could represent any family living during the Nazi Germany timeframe. Two themes spoke loud and clear, at least to me, about law and grace; its ebb and flow, intersection and movement, weave and release, push and shove, in and out, side by side, intermingling throughout and in relationship with one another. I experienced both of them in several places, but I’ll mention just one and its through the eyes of the step-parents.

Their hearts were vulnerable, exposed, real and raw with honest, tangible expressions of struggling in living out the harsh realities of life ~ its altering choices during the Holocaust. So evident. Very much felt! You feel it as one parent is succumbed to bitterness, a hardness of heart, the practicality of laying down and living the law while at the same time the other embraces the way of love, tenderness and grace. There were valid reasons for their choices, yet, I also saw grace softening a hard heart, a move toward creating an environment for greatness!

The movie begins with an interesting subplot. Death is the narrator and proceeds to remind you that it is a fact that everyone is going to die and adds, “You’ll meet me soon enough.” And this is what the movie is essentially about, people who are very close to a girl by the name of Liesel who is surrounded with the dying, the horrors and atrocities of life in Nazi Germany (which also include book burnings). Though, strangely enough, compassion and mercy show up which portray a significant expression of grace. At one point, Liesel sees German soldiers leading captured Jews away and rushes over to them to tell them, “I won’t forget you, I won’t forget you.” With that said, there are moments and very harsh realities indeed when Hitler’s soldiers mistreat people that reveal the daunting evil side of humanity. But even with the bad side, you continue to see and experience grace, that in the end, it is compassion, love, mercy and grace that prevail. We too should never forget!

The message that deeply impacted me: you may not understand the why of what is happening (even what is evil) and how it can possibly work for good, but at some point, it will culminate and you’ll see what appeared and was quite possibly meant for evil, actually was worked for good!  When Liesel’s good friend Max challenges her and says, “If you’re eyes could speak, what would they say” and gives her a journal to fill its blank pages she is soon writing about her deepest feelings and this leads to a memorable future.

This is grace! We don’t always see it, but grace always prevails! Also, though the narrator Death says “it is a fact that everyone is going to die” and “you’ll meet me soon enough” this is only half truth. There is more to the story and the narrator doesn’t get it! Yes, the body dies but our spirit does not! We don’t just simply die with no afterlife. Though not expressed in the movie, the good news is and for those saved by GRACE knowing Christ as Savior and Lord, death does not win, life in Christ does!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:53-55

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