One Day In the Life
I can remember reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The back cover of this slim volume says,
“This brutal, shattering glimpse of the fate of Russians under Stalin shook Russia and shocked the world when it first appeared. Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of string or a single match in a world where survival is all.”
The book was riveting and horrifying as it detailed the atrocities of the Communist Soviet regime under Stalin.
The author of this book was Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn. It was this book as well as The Gulag Archipelago that earned him a Nobel prize for literature in 1970. He had to accept the prize in absentia since the government of what was then the USSR would not allow him to go to Sweden to accept the honor. He was expelled from Russia in handcuffs and declared a traitor and stripped of his citizenship. Later he came to live in the US in Vermont. He continued to write and exposed the atrocities of the Stalin regime and the brutality of the USSR. He was a devout Russian Orthodox Christian and he was lionized in the US and elsewhere until he began to criticize the US for its decadent lifestyle and commercialism. His citizenship was returned to him, the charge of treason was dropped and eventually he was invited back to the new Russia and lived there until he died August 3. He was 89.
He was disappointed that not many of the young people in Russia had read his books. He was disappointed that Russia is becoming what he despaired of in the US: a godless, atheistic, commercialistic country devoted to self and monetary gain.
When I read his books I was challenged by what he endured. I don’t know if I could stand what he had to endure and I often think of Psalm 16:6 which says, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” And there is the verse that tells us that God will not give us more than we can bear for Him and in His Name:
. . . And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
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