1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Lt. Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin was among the first British soldiers to arrive at the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. In his diary from the days after the liberation of the women interned at the camp, he records the horror, death, and inhumanity that occurred there. But sometime in 1945 he wrote the following:

It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived…that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick…it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. 

I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips…. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm….That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Of all the possibilities we might imagine for what Paul means by the foolishness of the cross (v. 18), I find none more powerful, more disarming, than a box of lipstick at a Nazi concentration camp. Something almost no one would have thought to ask for became critical in changing how deeply broken and abused people saw themselves. It was the strangest means of healing, of transformation. It would have been foolish to expect such change to come from such a small, seemingly insignificant item. Still, it proved perfect. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength (v. 25). Praise God this is so.


When has God used seemingly foolish, insignificant items or moments to radically change your life or someone else’s? 


God, help me to find strength and healing in foolishness this day. Amen.

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