Last week I heard so many sad true stories from friends and acquaintances, stories of illness, dying, death, addiction, broken relationships and difficult circumstances. There was a thread running through and connecting all those stories, the brokenness, twistedness and hopelessness of our world and our very nature. Things just aren’t right, not in the natural world, not in individuals, or in societies. Even the best of our efforts cannot truly restore. Only God can put it all right again because only He is truly good. In His mercy He has done that in Christ Jesus. He helps and heals those who trust Him today, and when Jesus comes again he will restore the entire world. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Jesus (John 10:10).
I was introduced to this by a friend a few years ago and I often think of it when I experience or observe suffering.
Pieter Brueghel, The Fall of Icarus
Musee des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.