Blue Flower

excluded from latest

For the past two Thursdays at 8.00pm, people in our street have come to their front doors and shown their appreciation for those on the NHS frontline by prolonged clapping of hands, a laudable and touching demonstration of gratitude and admiration. For a variety of reasons, however, I have not joined them.

One reason is that I do not share the feeling of helplessness that began these demonstrations when they originated in Italy and Spain - the perplexity that Jesus spoke of...

Luke 21:25-26

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Do you realise how many modern pandemics have originated with animals?

About 3500 years ago guidance was given which, had it been followed closely, would have prevented these terrible outbreaks of disease.

The Law of Moses, given by God at Sinai, defined two distinct classes of animal – clean and unclean. The clean mammals were those which chewed the cud and had cloven hooves – cattle, sheep, goats, deer: all the rest were unclean, to be avoided completely as food, and treated with caution if domesticated as working beasts [like horses, asses and camels]. The preferred draught animals in peacetime were oxen. Only fish with scales and fins were clean. Only herbivorous birds were clean – such as doves. These food and contact restrictions, if followed closely, minimised the risk of sickness arising from animal-borne diseases. All recent pandemics have come into humans by way of animals that the Law classed as unclean, and which a faithful Israelite would have avoided completely. (Read Leviticus 11:1-23)

And yet…

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them (Psa.34:7)

Many Bible believing people will have drawn great comfort from the above-mentioned Old Testament verse. Yet in the following psalm, there are a couple of verses, which describe the angel of Yahweh in a quite different role: persecuting those who set themselves against Yahweh’s anointed

 Walk down the main street in many towns in the UK and you'll hear a variety of different languages spoken:Polish, Portuguese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian and, especially in the tourist season, French, German, Dutch and Spanish. These languages are barriers between nations and cultures, even within communities, which are difficult to overcome.

In a conference with each speaker using a different language, the need to provide simultaneous translation highlights this problem. For any number of different languages greater than three, the number of translators exceeds the number of speakers.

1 language – 0 translators, 2 languages – 1 translator, 3 languages – 3 translators but then for 4 languages – 6 translators, 5 languages – 10 translators, and for 10 languages – 45 translators.

For the mathematically inclined, the number of translators for x languages is x(x-1)/2. As organisations diversify their membership, so translating has become a flourishing growth industry.

It was not always so.

Suffering reminds us that –

  • We live in an imperfect world in which we are vulnerable and susceptible to suffering and death.

  • Humans at times can intentionally inflict suffering upon others.

  • Suffering can come about through illness, war, poverty, disease etc.

  • We are unable to eradicate suffering altogether.