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St Johns Southgate

14 Aug 2014

Although he was nearly 28 years younger than his counterpart, the two great artists were dear friends and frequent companions. When the older artist was confined to his home during the last decade of his life, the younger visited him daily.  

The older artist, almost paralysed by arthritis, continued to paint in spite of his infirmities. One day as the younger artist friend watched the elder painter working in his studio, fighting torturous pain with each brush stroke, he blurted out: “Why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?”

His answer was simple: “The beauty remains; the pain passes.” And so, almost to his dying day, he continued to put paint to canvas. One of his most famous paintings, was completed just two years before his death; 14 years after this disabling disease struck him.

Life regularly brings along times when pain, suffering and sorrow fill our hearts and minds. Loneliness, illness, our children or friends’ struggles and a plethora of other problems weigh us down. In times like these, our heavenly father wants to comfort and encourage us; ultimately the pain will pass, but the beauty of Christ’s cross will remain forever.

In Roman times, the cross was a symbol of death. It stood for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man, who took the cross and started down the road, had already said goodbye to his friends – to his family. He wasn’t coming back.

But God, in his son, Jesus Christ, transformed the cross from a symbol of death and hopelessness, into a symbol of beauty – hope and victory. St Paul writes to the Corinthians: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor.1:18).

The sight of Jesus on the cross, disclosed God as one who suffers with humanity. There is no suffering closer to God than the suffering of the man Jesus. Thus, the human suffering of Jesus is really God’s own suffering. But God helps us in our suffering through the cross, keeping us through his word at the cross of Christ, so that we are comforted in our struggles.

So, let us remember: Ultimately our pain, whether physical or emotional, will pass, if not here on earth, then at least in eternity. But the life giving hope, the “beauty” of Christ’s cross, will remain forever as our true hope and salvation.

Pastor Ian

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