The people passing by

By Maxie Heppell

Where sin had been, there He went.
Where sin was, there He came.
What sin had done, that He strove to remedy.
The suffering made for Him a sphere.
R. Tuck

Her name is Ivanka, and shortly after the horrific massacres in the city of Bucha came to light, she decided to offer her help in that very part of Ukraine. One day, in the streets of Bucha, she met a man who told her that he had lost everything. His son was shot and killed, a bomb had wiped out his house.

“There is no joy left for me in this town,” he said. “The bullet holes in my fence remind me of all that I’ve lost.”

This is just one of the too many tragic stories from this time in that place.

A first reaction might be to help the man rebuild his house, to pick up the pieces of his life. No one can bring his son back, but we can plug the holes or, if necessary, build a new fence.

But Ivanka looked at this differently.

In 1929, Sigmund Freud wrote about the process of mourning:

No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely,
it nevertheless remains something else.
And actually that is how it should be.
It is the only way of perpetuating that love
which we do not want to relinquish.

Ivanka started painting flowers all around the bullet holes in Bucha. Yellow and blue flowers, as there should be, started blooming everywhere. The empty holes of destruction that could be seen everywhere became a testament of hope.

She started with that man’s fence, and instead of trying to erase the bad memories – as if it never happened, as if his son never existed – she softened the hard outlines, drawing his eyes right to the centre of the hurt, before his gaze widened and he could see new life rise.

Jesus never tried to argue away the sadness of people. He never looked for ways to avoid awkward moments. On the contrary, He went looking for the one in pain at a well, in a storm, next to a grave.

Peter’s betrayal, Thomas’ doubt, Paul’s past … Why would the Lord want us to know about this? Would his story not have been so much better if it could have been told without any shrapnel scars?

The older Bible translations taught us that He would not break a bruised reed, a smouldering wick he would not extinguish.

But if we want to understand the broadness of his grace and love for us, it will be good to know how broken that fence was at first:

He will not walk over anyone’s feelings,
won’t push you into a corner.
Before you know it, his justice will triumph;
the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even
among far-off unbelievers.
Matthew 12:21 (The Message)

He would never pretend that the fence was not broken.
He simply renders it beautiful once again.
And the people passing by find their hope renewed.

Your inspiration for the week: Plans

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