Sometimes You Interfere


1945 – Buchenwald Concentration Camp Wiesel – 2nd row from bottom, 7th from left

“And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.

We must take sides.

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Sometimes we must interfere.”
– Elie Wiesel, Night

Sometimes it’s hard to know.

Speak up or be silent?

I’ve sometimes spoken up when I should have kept silent.
And sometimes I’ve kept silent when I should have spoken up.

It’s almost been one year since Elie Wiesel died. He would have been 87 years old had he not died one year ago on July 2, 2016.

During World War II, Wiesel was a victim of the Holocaust, a slave laborer in Auschwitz, Buna, and the Buchenwald concentration camps. (If you have yet to read his book Night about his time in the Nazi death camps, now is a good time.)


“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Because we need to get this better – this knowing when to stand up.
This knowing when to interfere.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

May the Lord grant us wisdom to know.

And grant us courage to do.

For everything there is a season, 
and a time for every matter under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1


obit video at

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Is there something you need to speak out about?

How do you decide when to speak up and when to be silent? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

34 thoughts on “Sometimes You Interfere

  1. Alice Walters

    Dear Lisa, I thought God had forgotten or was punishing me when He thrust me into the world of urban education. Eventually, I discovered His profound love in breaking my heart over and over again. Now I am writing for them, to affirm that someone sees their hurts and longings. And I write to give them a voice to those who have no idea of the hopeless lives many of them live. Thank you for the encouragement to keep telling their.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You sound like a hero, Alice. Yes, keep seeing and listening and loving on those kids who need more people like you. I’ve dipped my toes into those waters the past couple of years with my daughter teaching in underserved areas, and the needs there are astounding. But there is always hope and God is big enough. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. Patricia Krank

    What a powerful video by Mr. Wiesel. Living to bear witness. The Bible tells us we are ambassadors of Christ and the message of the gospel but we are also charged to be the protectors of those who cannot protect themselves.

    It can be hard to speak out when one is attacked for doing so and I haven’t always been so great at doing that. I pray that God will strengthen all of us as Christ followers with courage to stand strong.

    Happy Fourth of July Lisa <3

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not very good at doing it either, Patti. I often doubt if my voice can make a difference. There have been times when the Spirit has really grabbed my attention and I’ve stood up, but it usually takes a bit of convincing first.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can SO relate to that, Jodie. I am sometimes too slow to process what needs to be done in real time. I need time to think things through. I’m glad when we sometimes get that time, but I want to move quicker when we don’t.

  3. Debbie Putman

    Wow, Lisa, what a powerful post. As a teacher for 35 years, I had plenty of opportunity to speak up for others. Sometimes I spoke to the whole class. Other times, I spoke privately to one child. Often I comforted those who were wounded by others.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think the other quotes are just from his speeches or other writings, but I could be wrong, Bill. Night is a powerful book.

      Another great quote that I didn’t list but I do know for sure is from Night (because I copied it down after I read it) is this: “But I have faith. Faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even in His creation. Without it no action would be possible. And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.”

      I don’t think anyone would regret investing time in reading this book.

  4. floyd

    Standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves is the heart of God. All throughout history heroes of the faith have stood against evil. I’m proud that America has been part of God’s plan to protect and serve.

    Now that Christians are being murdered weekly, may the same call for human rights bring action in this fallen world again.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, what a beautiful example we have of God and his believers standing up for the weak and powerless, and over and over encouraging us his people to continue to do the same. May we live up to our calling! Thanks for sharing this, Floyd.

  5. Barbara H.

    This is the source of some of my biggest conflicts. I tend too much towards keeping quiet, and even if I want to speak in the moment, I often am at a loss to know what to say or do. But after I process things a bit, I try to speak later – but sometimes that’s too late. And sometimes people don’t listen or understand or retaliate by name-calling – but may God give us wisdom and grace to speak when and how He wants us to.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m familiar with this delayed ability to react, too, Barbara. Maybe it’s an introvert thing. I don’t know. But yes, may God give and we be able to receive wisdom and grace and the right words at the right time!

  6. Brenda

    Good reminder, Lisa. Thank you. — My son’s summer English project for school is reading “Night.” He’ll be starting it next week. We have family who endured the Holocaust. So very sad. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. ((hug))

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I’m so sorry that you have a personal connection to this travesty. 🙁 But I suppose it will make the reading of “Night” all the more meaningful for your son. Blessings to you all, Brenda!

  7. Lynn D. Morrissey

    verse 7:  a time to be silent and a time to speak

    This post, Mr. Wiesel’s words pierce me. Once we know about an atrocity, it is atrocious if we do not speak. I’m realizing that more and more. My dear friend, the late Louis Daniel Brodsky, Jewish poet, wrote on many subjects, but the Holocaust became his spiritual passion. He had not suffered the ravages of Nazi Germany. He was an American, but he picked up his pen and remembered the suffering of those who went before him. While we should always speak out, like you are doing now, we can’t speak up every time, for everyone. So you are wise to ask this soul-provoking question: “Is there something you need to speak out about?” . . . and I would add, someone (though you obviously imply it). I do thnk God gives us specific people about whom to speak up, often who cannot speak for themselves. In my case, it is children who have been designated for slaughter in the womb. I do that because I know the atrocity firsthand, having aborted my first child. I spoke up in my book. And there have been times when I am asked to give my public testimony, most recently a year ago in my church at both services. The majority of the congregation did not know my story. But this post grips me, Lisa, and what I’ve asked of late is if God wants me to speak up and out further, to have further impact. This post is a reminder to be persistent in asking Him so He will show me just how to do that. Thank you so much for speaking out now.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I really appreciate this, Lynn. Thank you for sharing the passion of your heart and your urgency for all babies. Those with first-hand experiences are often the ones we listen to the most, so I’m sure that your testimony about your abortion has had a deep impact on those in your audience, both in person and readers of your book. It’s healing for all when we hear these stories. And like your friend Mr. Brodsky, even when we don’t have first-hand experiences, we can still bear witness beside those who did. You’re special. I join you in praying for God’s vision on when and how to speak up.

  8. Laura Thomas

    “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Powerful. Quite honestly, I have a tendency to bury my head in the sand and I know that’s SO not what Jesus would do. Thanks for this convicting post, Lisa… clearly, I needed to read it and pray about what I have to do! I’ve put Night on my to-read list for starters 🙂 Thanks for always sharing boldly and kindly. Stopping by from #saltandlight

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think we all bury our heads in the sand, Laura—just about different issues. Some things that are glaringly obvious to one person aren’t to another, and vice versa. I just pray that God continues to impress on our hearts when we need to really look up and out and SEE. Seeing always comes first. Hope you have a blessed weekend!

  9. Jean Wise

    wow, just wow. I ordered Night from the library. Remember me making those daring scary prayers a few weeks ago – watch what you pray for – God is moving in my heart and your quotes tonight from this courageous man dug deep into my spirit. I need to read this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. You are such a wonderful resource of broad range of reading.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you have this book on order, Jean. Let me know what you think when you get to read it. Yes, I remember your scary praying! So God was listening. 🙂

  10. Lux G.

    Oh, my heart. What a story. What a life. What strength and wisdom only a suffering could bring.

    And how encouraging and motivating. We need to interfere, or else, everyone will suffer.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, Lux…everyone suffers when we don’t speak up for each other. Such an important lesson that many of us (myself included!) need to improve on.

  11. Gretchen Fleming

    Yes……..sometimes we stand up against what we cannot tolerate or condone, no matter if it makes any change in the course of events, we still voice the truth that needs to be said. I think we can feel like it will do no good in the big picture so we keep silent but what a lesson this man offers. No matter how insignificant we feel, we still have a voice God can use. Thank you for sharing Him with us!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      This is what we always need to remember: “No matter how insignificant we feel, we still have a voice God can use.” Thanks for sharing this truth, Gretchen.

  12. Dawn

    Oh, Lisa….

    This sparks an ember to a fire that has been banked and kept smoldering in my heart. The words aren’t quite there yet, but the shield of indifference and the veil of hiding need to be removed and especially within the Body… we need to no longer be complacent to the things that break His heart.

    I love that you shared this. I love that you are a catalyst for something good.

    Thanks for sharing this at the #GraceMoments Link Up!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Dawn. I heard a couple of podcasts today as I was driving that also spoke to the issues of being more vocal, especially among our friends that we have influence. It was quite convicting!

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