“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart” Ecclesiastes 3:11
I woke up this morning to a message on a group chat posted late last night, asking those that were up to check the news and pray for those who had died in the terror attack in London. Not again, I thought. I looked back in my notebook at something I had scribbled out as I was processing what happened not so long ago in Manchester:
In my heart there is a little gap,
A hole if you will,
A pull that gets stronger and more nagging
When there is a news flash of a
Freak accident or
Terrorist attack –
Of lives lost in an instant.
Snatched and extinguished.
Death sometimes seems like an impossibility,
Especially at 19 –
How can someone just, cease?
This hole in my heart asks me ‘what are you that you feel this tugging?’
It protests ‘I don’t want to cease to be, tell me this is not really the case’
It demands an answer to the question ‘what is this life if death comes to take it?’
In the midst of the pain and grief that followed what happened in Manchester, I was thinking and resting on the verse written at the top, Ecclesiastes 3:11.
It’s my favourite verse of the Bible because in it I think is the most poignant and exquisite diagnosis the human condition that ever has been. We are beautifully made be-ings that must reconcile themselves to their not being. Eternity in the human heart. Mortal with the mark of the immortal.
This pulling, the hole in our hearts we try to deal with by pursuing different goals which will either make us numb to it or which we tell ourselves will cure this nagging, seems to always stay with us. Satisfaction will come, we say to ourselves, with a particular achievement or reaching a point of x, y or z, or as we follow the distractions of short-term pleasures and being busy instead. But then, it never does stay.
Some of the pain and discomfort that follows such horrendous attacks is that the internal pull that comes from our hearts grabs a hold of us and silently screams ‘why have you not been answering my questions properly? Give me answers on what and why life when there is death, tell me why the reality of death hurts, and tell me that it is unjust that these people have died and tell me who I can turn to that can give a right to the wrong‘.
Friends, I am not here to tell you what you should believe. But I would like to tell you that the only convincing answers I have ever been able to tell the nagging of my heart is the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, his victory over death. If you identify with the diagnosis of Ecclesiastes 3:11, ask yourself what the remedy of that should be.
If eternity is part of the problem, I feel that eternity should be part of the answer.
Jesus came to be amongst us, to know our pain himself, to take on our pain, to be present with us in our pain, and to be the answer. We ache and recognise that all is not right, we struggle with bewilderment as to how the events in London last night could have happened, and we are met with Jesus who hurts with us, for life he has created has been taken and he hurts too, and who offers a way out through his victory over death.
We, the mortal with the mark of the immortal, find rest and restoration when reunited with the immortal mortal, Jesus.