Thankful for the War

Remembrance Day always makes me think of my grandparents. They didn’t fight in WWII; they grew up during it.

My grandmother was born into a comfortably well-off family in an upper-end district of Utrecht. During the war, bombing raids destroyed her father’s business. Her mother had to let the help go, then sell the crystal and silver in order to buy food for her eight children. One day the last food they had was potato peelings; they had eaten the potatoes the night before. As they were sitting down at the table, there was a knock at the door. A poor woman was going door to door in this end of the city, begging for food for her children. Nobody had given her anything. Oma’s mother went back inside, took the potato peelings, and gave them to the woman.

When her children realized what had happened, they protested – how could she have given their food to someone else’s children? Because they were in a position to help; they had eaten the day before, they had food to share with those in greater need. “The Lord will provide.” With that, there was a knock on the door. A man was there with a loaf of bread, wondering if the children needed food.

Eventually, food did run out in the city, and they were starving. The Lord provided places for them to stay in the country until the liberation. But between the potato peelings and the Allies, there were many times of need, and the Lord met each need with provision. There was always just enough for them to keep going. The family never regained their pre-war lifestyle, and ended up immigrating to Canada.

A couple of weeks ago, Oma told me she wouldn’t change a thing about her experience. “My sister and I were talking about it the other day; we’re thankful for the war, and that we lived through it with our mother. We learned to trust the Lord, and we’ve never had to learn that lesson again.”

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)