He sat crouched with his knees up to his chest and his hands covering his face.
This is how one man’s life came to an end when Mount Vesuvius rained down toxic gases and a cloud of ash that covered every living creature in the town of Pompeii.
I stared through the glass at what looked like ancient statues in the most unusual positions. Some looked like they were running. Others appeared as if they had fallen to the ground; arms outstretched in front of them.
These life-sized figures were real people—wives, husbands, mothers and children caught out by the fire and brimstone that enveloped them.
On a hot summer’s day in Italy with sweat covering my forehead, these 2,000 year old human beings frozen in their last pose of life sent a cold chill trickling down my back.
In one small corner of the world in 79 AD, disaster rained down.
Pompeii, quite literally, came to an end.
Yet, whatever is happening in our small sphere, we need to remember the world is different elsewhere.
Chicken Little (Chicken Licken to my UK friends) ran around frantically when an acorn fell on her head saying the sky was falling in.
Our experience can feel similar.
In the days following Brexit, I felt my country, Great Britain, would change from all I have known when the yes vote to exit from the European Union won. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.
It’s the same feeling I had a few years ago as I lay in the small hospital room listening to the doctor’s diagnosis of the lump identified in the mammogram. My world turned upside down.
As I looked forward excitedly to visiting Istanbul last week, I had to deal with disappointment when plans were changed after suicide bombers attacked the airport.
How do we comprehend and deal with these events?
When there are eruptions within our sphere, we need to make our world bigger.
On that fateful day in Italy, if you had lived a little way down the road from Pompeii, the sun would have been shining, the birds would have been singing, and life would have carried on as if normal.
When I step outside my little world, it gives me a different perspective—a wider, deeper and broader worldview.
What seems like the end of the world is only part of what is going on in the world.
And we can take comfort in knowing God’s view is bigger and better than our limited vision.
As archeologists slowly and painstakingly remove the thirteen to twenty feet (four to six meters) of volcanic dust covering Pompeii, beauty is found beneath the ashes. I marveled as I saw the beautiful frescos, dainty mosaic floors, and majestic pillars that had been uncovered.
Now thousands of visitors each year flock to see this ancient Roman town.
In the topsy-turvy world in which I live, and which seems so uncertain, we can find goodness and God can bring good.