Rivka had to sneeze. Oh, God, she thought, not now! Anything that brings the guards attention could cause her to be subjected to his wrath or his egotistical desires.
She cowered down behind the older women. At fifteen she was already too aware of the cruel desires of her captors. Her only defense was to keep a low profile and blend into the crowd of battered and abused women. This was hard to do, for many of them fell in front of her, some with their last breath, leaving her exposed.
How long had she been here? Who knows? Too long! She came here in a crowded boxcar that reeked with the stench of body sweat and body waste, packed so tightly that she could not move. Those who didnt make it, never fell - they were too closely knit with the rest of the occupants. The odor became so familiar that it was almost unnoticeable, but not quite. She had left that boxcar innocent, but afraid. She was no longer innocent, but the fear remained.
Rivka didnt dare dwell on her family. Their fate was unknown, but judging from all the whispers of her fellow prisoners and the bragging from the banter of the guards, she knew the answer in her heart. Her only hope rested in the fact that they had been a Christian family. Theirs was heaven to gain. Thank God for that.
The women snuggled close to each other. Their tattered rags brought neither comfort nor warmth, and their only hope to survive the cold was the small amount of body heat they could bring to one another. The older women encircled the younger ones, trying to hide them from the lustful eyes of the guards; motherly instincts still intact.
The lone guard sat by an open fire, not paying any attention to the freezing groups. He was dozing a little and looking very pleased with himself. Then it happened. Rivka sneezed. She drew herself into a ball behind her protectors, hoping not to be seen. But the sneeze brought the guard fully awake, and he scanned each group for the source that had disturbed his rest.
Oh, God, prayed Rivka. Please help me!
Just then, a shiny black car pulled into the area in front of the guards headquarters and the agitated guard forgot his prey, his full attention on the parade before him as the entourage of his senior officers entered the warm confines of the headquarters building.
Rivka breathed a sigh of relief. It was okay for now. She knew that the future held more beatings and abuse, but, for now, she could breath easier.
The women slept through another night of no food, water, or comforts of any kind. No beds, no blankets, not even a mat to sleep on. Rivka awoke with two women huddled close to her for warmth. One stirred, but the other would never stir again. Rivka had never seen death as a blessing, but, this time, she did.
She smiled at the sight of her friend, now oblivious to the cold weather and the cold hearts of their captors. God is still on the throne!
The words no sooner left her lips than she saw the black shiny boots standing next to her. Unbidden fear enveloped her and with good reason. Large hands snatched her up by her hair and drug her to the yard. Angry words were hurled at her. Ill show you whos on the throne, he spat as he grabbed his whipping cane.
Rivka cried out, in spite of her vow of silence during the beatings, as blow after blow bloodied her back, legs and any part the cane hit. God, where are you?
Rivka lay abandoned by her friends. No comfort or warmth from them today. Each of them was afraid to go near in fear for her own life. So Rivka was left alone to live or die in her misery.
She remembered the words she had been taught at home. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.* It was so hard to grasp that God was with her. Her heart cried out in agony. Where are you right now, Lord?
Suddenly, Rivka saw a bright light. She was drawn to the light as her body relaxed with the peace of death and a smile replaced the agony in her face. He had come to take her home.
He was there all the time! was her last earthly thought.
*Hebrews 13:5 KJV Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
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