Radiophobia, Anne Frank and Lent
“Radiophobia” is an abnormal fear of radiation. The term is being discussed today with regard to the nuclear crisis in Japan. What does it feel like to know that you have been exposed to radiation on a level which threatens your health and even your life?
Now such fears are surfacing in Japan. Foreigners are leaving, lining up at immigration departments and airports. People fear contaminated food and milk products. In Tokyo, just 170 miles from the damaged Fukushima power plants (less than the distance from Dallas to Austin), people are unsure whether or not to trust the authorities’ assurances.
The good news is that Fukushima Daiichi’s peak radiation output has been 400 millisieverts per hour. According to the World Nuclear Association, exposure of 1,000 millisieverts per hour is needed to cause radiation sickness. But fears will persist until the nuclear plants are under control.
By contrast, consider one of the most moving displays I encountered during last weekend’s visit to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. You will remember the story of Anne Frank, the young girl who hid with her family from Nazi soldiers for two years in her native Amsterdam.
She kept a now-famous diary of her life, beginning on June 12, 1942 and continuing until August 1, 1944. Their family was betrayed and arrested three days later. Anne and her sister Margot were imprisoned at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died of typhus in March of 1945. Only a few weeks later, their camp was liberated by British troops.
The World War II museum records this entry from Anne’s diary, dated June 6, 1944:
“‘This is D-Day,’ the BBC announced at 12 o’clock. ‘This is the day.’ The invasion has begun! . . . Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? . . . the best part of the invasion is that I have the feeling that friends are on the way. Those terrible Germans have oppressed and threatened us for so long that the thought of friends and salvation means everything to us!”
You may not face radiophobia today, but you are dealing with fears which are just as real to your soul. Jesus warned us that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But D-Day has already come. The King of Kings invaded our fallen planet at Christmas, and promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). During Lent we remember the sacrifice of the Son of God, who became one of us that we might be one with him.
Now he invites you to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Where will you begin this morning?