As I approached the roundabout I could see the helicopter through the top of my windscreen. It was hovering, purposefully, keeping a keen eye on something yet unseen by me. I next caught sight of the police bikes. Two of them, both with their riders with their hands in the air bringing the oncoming traffic to a halt. I sat in my car, waiting, and with the other drivers around me wondered what was going on.
Would there be a glimpse of someone famous? A dignitary, perhaps royalty, or a senior politician maybe?
The sirens came next and more police bikes sped through the gap before fast-response cars followed. It was then that I saw the first hearse. It took the roundabout at speed, and was followed in quick succession by eight more. With only a length between each of them it was like watching an ominous race.
They sped off followed by more chase cars, all under the eyes of the men in the sky above.
9 hearses; 9 coffins. 9 of the victims from the Tunisia beach attack. I was suddenly only a few feet away from this shocking episode of evil.
One moment the victims were holidaying on a beach and now under comprehensive escort they were travelling the A40 at record pace. The hearses caught me by surprise. But I remember thinking that no one would have been more surprised than the victims themselves.
We’ve just remembered 7/7 in the UK. The memories from that fateful day are still fresh. The images bring it all rushing back. In a world where atrocities seem to take place at an alarming rate, the horror of evil actions remains shocking when observed by those near to them.
We feel the wrongness of these situations. We think of the pain of those caught up in the events. We mourn.
When the immediate grief subsides people caught up in suffering move from looking for comfort to looking for answers. ‘Why’? And, ‘how’? And, ‘could it have been prevented?’ And so on.
In this tragedy – as in many – there are tales of heroism. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The acts of evil, punctuated with humanity’s finest qualities. The good alongside the bad.
It really can be quite hard to make sense of it all. Humans have the capacity for incredible acts of love and we have the capacity for incredible acts of violence.
Hope and Answers
Everyone who lives has to face the suffering of the world. It is a worldwide problem; it is a human problem.
What we believe about the reality of the world goes a long way to how we answer the problems that we face. Diagnosing the malady correctly is the first step on the road to health.
The Christian understands the world to be full of both happiness and suffering. Human beings have the ability to create, bring life, love well, and serve others. But at the very same time the heart of humanity, of each one of us, has been corrupted, led astray, and all kinds of wrong happen to us, stay with us, and come out of us.
Humans are valuable because they are made by a loving God. They are not a random collection of atoms. We are not accidents. And like tarnished silver, our value is not lost when our appearance has been marred.
At the very same time the Bible does not shy away from the reality of evil. It is full of brokenness. It is full of hurting people. The Bible is not shy to call good, good, and evil, evil.
And the God of the Bible did not remain distant from the suffering of the world, but entered into it and suffered himself.
The world is far from perfect. It is in fact broken. For those that agree with this, the effort must then be placed on finding the solution. The fix. Is it more knowledge? Is it a greater collective human effort? We will do anything: work harder, sacrifice more etc. Our history is full of incredible efforts to this end but while they may have bandaged some wounds, they have not brought lasting health.
We have tried so much and we are left collectively exasperated and worn out. Who or what can we trust to bring us hope?
When we have exhausted the search for answers from within perhaps we should turn to answers from afar and when we do we can look, searchingly, at the life of a man who lived 2,000 years ago who suffered greatly for the people he loved and then astonishingly after a brutal death was raised to life once more.
It’s preposterous. It’s extravagant. It’s utterly different. But isn’t this exactly the sort of answer we need for the problems of the world today? When all that is obvious to us has been tried perhaps it’s time to look beyond our own horizons.
The problems that we face have proven to be huge. The answers that we require will need to be bigger still.