“Look at Life … and the Insolence and Idleness of the Strong; the Ignorance and the Brutishness of the Weak; Horrible Poverty Everywhere; Overcrowding, Degeneration, Drunkenness, Hypocrisy, Lying.”
It would be of interest, and surely of some significance, to view this “look at life” not through the lens of hard fact, but rather via the mirror of soft fiction. That was the setting, for these lines are to be found in Anton Pavovich Chekov’s play, “Gooseberries.” But then, as the late bard of Avon, Mr. Shakespeare once play-remarked, “all the world’s a stage” and the dismal drama of disillusionment and despair is being reenacted upon every level of society.
Yet no flourish of fiction can e’er cover nor smooth the bitter reaping of final act. Life is a litany of loss, and never more hath the reality of the doleful tones been sounded than against the tattered tapestry of “the latter times” (1 Timothy 4:1), “the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1). In this one may discern the curious paradox wrought by the entrance of sin into the realm of man (Romans 5:12). Not alone has the reaping of death engineered, but there is the pitiless prelude of present decay. Sin hath set forth a sorry system of demerit, cancelling whatever of credit had been established upon the surface of things. There is a scar which is seen across the face of science. Bright technology is shadowed by the tatters which are strewn across the tinselled face. Modern man is left with an uneasy consciousness that some measure of inner debit in a thousand-and-one-ways effects the cancelling of credit. Somehow his achievements and enterprises do not appear to have “hands long enough” to reach out and encompass the whole of himself, and secure the needful measures of comfort, rest and satisfaction. One has but to reread Chekov’s cold commentary to come to the bitter end that nothing has changed which is ever made known externally.
The dilemma is delineated by the Holy Spirit in the prophetic analysis through Paul. These “last days,” the chronology of the latter portion of the allotted times, bears the designation as “perilous.” This is “chalepos … dangerous, furious.” Of significance to note is that the “chalepos” root bears the thought, “reduction of strength.” Full power cannot be realized; sin measures that which drags to lower depths. Modern man’s “heights” are being insidiously “chopped off,” and withal, there is the sorry beholding of the remaining “stumps.”
Little wonder that our times bear evident witness to a fire of frustration. There is the acid of despair, which underscores the diagrams and print-outs. It was Edna St. Vincent Millay who groaned, “It is not true that life is one rotten thing after another … it’s one rotten thing over and over.” Of interest to note is that ‘twas a well known comedian who remarked, “life is just a bowl of pits.” The philosopher Santayana opined, “Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.” Last of this litany is the word of Emile Cioran, “Since all life is a futility, then the decision to exist must be the most irrational of all.” Eloquent testimony to the awareness of a moral “fault line” running through the structure of life and living.
One recalls the tragedy of the author, Virginia Woolf, who at seaside, loaded herself with rocks, and walked out into the deep waters. There possibly could be no answers to such dilemmas and paradoxes save that which is illuminated by the testimony of the “x-ray” of the Word of God. One affording is given through a prophet of old, reminding that these moral “fault lines” bear no reading nor connection with circumstances or chronology. His testimony sets forth the true, the interior, “look at life” … “your iniquities have separated between you and God, and your sins have hidden your face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). A later diagnosis is prescribed by the Apostle John, that “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19) . ‘Tis of significance to note that “Lieth” is “keimai … to lie outstretched … to be laid up …” The root carries the thought of “craddling.” Here is supine surrender to the god of this world whose expertise and artifices carry the blinding (2 Corinthians 4:4), as to the verities of spiritual consequence.
For modern man to “look at life” through the lens of the transpiring of things can really afford no conclusion, nor satisfaction. The sense of completeness never cometh of these things; the “look” must penetrate to the interior living, and standing amidst the moral disasters, must seek and cry out for release and deliverance, afforded alone by the things of spiritual and eternal consequence. Could it be that our blessed Lord would have been looking down the long, narrow corridor of time, to the present pity and plight when He declared, “I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)?