Story Scripture: The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8
Story Saying: When we face difficulties, we sometimes forget God’s past faithfulness. We see only the detours and the dangerous path. But look back and you will also see the joy of victory, the challenge of the climb, and the presence of your traveling Companion who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. – Author Unknown
Behind the Story: Here is yet another popular fairy tale that nearly everyone has heard more than once. There are many different variations of this story, but I particularly love the original because it features a house made of sweets with windows of clear sugar. How delicious! What imagination! But it is not without a bit of darkness. I remember the first time my youngest brother and sister watched a cartoon version of Hansel and Grethel and they were so frightened of the ugly witch with her crooked nose zooming back and forth on a broom and cackling about her plans to stuff the poor children in an oven and roast them whole. The horror! But before we get to the witch, there are a few things we can learn from the other characters.
In the beginning of the story, we are introduced to a poor man who is in great distress because he does not have enough food to feed his two children. His wife, the children’s step-mother, suggests that they get rid of the children altogether by leaving them in the thickest part of the forest. The father objects to this plan, but the step-mother gives him no rest until he agrees to do so. The step-mother was only thinking of herself. She was more concerned about herself eating than she was her step-children eating. The Bible instructs us: Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. We should not desire harm to come to others in order for ourselves to be satisfied. Christ was and is our Perfect Example in this regard. He allowed His blood to be poured out so that we could drink living water. His body was broken so that we could eat the bread of life.
Luckily, Hansel and Gretel are awake and overhear their step-mother’s plan. Gretel is worried and begins to cry, but Hansel comforts her and says, “Be comforted, dear little sister, and sleep in peace, God will not forsake us.” How right he is. God is behind us, before us, and beside us. He is always with us. Because He will never leave us or forsake us, we do not have to be afraid when we face difficulties and we do not have to be discouraged when others seek harm against us. W only need to turn to the One Who has promised to be with us every step of whatever journey we may face.
The first time, Hansel and Gretel manage to find their way back home. Their father is overjoyed because he did not want to get rid of them in the first place. He knew the step-mother’s plan was wrong, but because she pressured him so much, he finally relented and did something (twice!) that went against his conscience (and also common sense). We must not let others coerce or harass us into doing what we know to be wrong. God has called us to do good toward Him, others, and even ourselves. He requires us to act justly and to love mercy.
The second time, however, Hansel and Gretel, do not have as much luck in returning home. They wander about the forest for days and days until they grow weary and think their legs will carry them no longer. They happen upon a house which is built of bread and cakes and sugar. Being hungry, they immediately set about eating some of it, but then the door pops open and out creeps a witch. The children are frightened, but the witch invites them inside and feeds them a good meal of milk and pancakes with sugar, apples, and nuts. When they go to sleep in two pretty little beds, Hansel and Gretel think they are in heaven. Satan would have us think the same about his enticing lairs and sugar-coated lies. He assures us that no harm will happen to us if we follow him, but that is not the case. Satan’s house is a highway to the grave, the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
When Gretel discovers the witch’s plan to cook and eat her and her brother, she remembers Hansel’s earlier words of comfort and cries out, “Dear God, do help us.” The witch tells her, “Just keep your noise to yourself. It won’t help you at all.” Once Satan is successful in getting us to follow him, he will try to make us believe that our prayers to God are in vain. He wants us to believe that we are firmly in his grip and beyond all deliverance, but that too is not the case. We are never too far gone that God cannot hear us and reach out a hand to save us.
David said, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Do not believe the lie that God’s ears are deaf to your prayers or that His eyes are blind to your tears. Before you even say a word, God knows exactly what you need and desire. Approach His throne of grace with boldness, and humbly obtain mercy and grace to help you in time of need.
At the end of the story, when Hansel and Gretel arrive back home bearing pearls and precious stones from the witch’s house, we see that the step-mother’s selfishness was of no benefit to her. She is dead. The children are reunited with their father. All anxiety is put to an end, and they live together in perfect happiness.