Inspired Pastor Joshua Rivas, Christ’s Center Church.
(Published in LIVE magazine, January 2014)
In 1941, Hitler set out to conquer Russia in his campaign for fascism. The German army was mobilized to take the city of Leningrad and then attempt to defeat Moscow, in their strategic assault against the Soviet Union.
On September 8th 1941, The Germans had fully encircled Leningrad forming, in their words, an iron ring around the city. Despite certain defeat, three million civilians, including 400,000 children refused to surrender even as they endured rapidly increasing hardships. By the winter of 1941, there was no heating, no water supply, and very little food.
Between January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died from cold and starvation. Before the siege ended 900 days later, over one million people would give their life. The attack has been recorded as one of the most prolonged, brutal, and dramatic events of World War II.
In the midst of all this death, during this time when shells were falling on the city, a man by the name of Dmitri Shostakovich composed his seventh symphony. He chose to write a victory song before there was even a glimpse of victory.
“I couldn’t not write it,” Shostakovich said “war was all around.” No composer before had ever tried to describe a future victory in music with such power and conviction during a time when his people were fighting for the very right to exist as a nation.
The Germans were shattering everything the Russian army did, but even then, Shostakovich had the resounding purpose to prove to the world that they hadn’t given up.
Copyists worked into the night preparing the symphony for distribution to their musicians. Loudspeakers were set up throughout the city aimed over the walls at the enemy as a direct act of defiance, sending the clear message that they would never surrender. Prior to the performance, the soviets pounded the Germans with a round of shells to silence them and make way for the music.
On Aug 9th 1942, one year before they would see victory, Leningrad performed their victory song.
How many of us are under siege right now, in the midst of an iron ring? There are places in our lives where we know we heard a promise of God, but are trapped. We hear reports of others breakthrough, but have yet to see our own.
How many of us are under siege in our dreams? There is a promise of God that we know is ours, but all we can hear are the guns.
Every strategy we come up with gets shattered.
Every open door, right when we get to it, slams in our face.
Every friend we have seems to be strangely busy.
All we can see is the death of what was, or the hopelessness of what has never been.
Even in the midst of this time, with no resources, with no backup plan, no good outlook, God declares to us, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” If you will call on Him and pray to Him and He will listen to you.
God understands our circumstances, he listens to our pain, and he continues to declare hope. He consistently speaks to things that are not as though they are. He knows the end of our story and He sees that we are victorious. He is beckoning us to submit to his perspective, to pull the future into the reality, and respond accordingly.
So let us write our victory song while we are still in the ashes, while the shells are still coming down on our life. Let us dare to believe that there is a hope and a future, and let us turn the speakers towards our enemies and declare our victory, this day.