He squatted 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 seemed to be running. Others appeared like 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.
Our experiences 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.
How do we comprehend and deal with devastating events in our lives?
Whatever is happening in our small sphere, we need to remember the world is different elsewhere.
Chicken Little, or Chicken Licken as I know her from being brought up in England, ran around frantically when an acorn fell on her head saying the sky was falling in. She needed a better view of what was happening.
When there are eruptions within our domain, we need to see beyond it.
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.
We need to be brave and ask God to give us his perspective—one that is wider, deeper and higher than our own limited viewpoint.
What seems like the end of the world is very rarely the case.
And we have to trust God’s bigger view is better than our limited vision.
As archeologists slowly and painstakingly removed the thirteen to twenty feet (four to six meters) of volcanic dust covering Pompeii, they found beauty beneath the ashes. And that’s what I saw on my visit. I marveled at the beautiful frescos, dainty mosaic floors, and majestic pillars.
And so, in the ashes of our circumstances, let’s search to find God’s perspective and the beauty he promises to bring into our lives.
Maybe it will take a long time. Perhaps we won’t see the good, but other people will. Yet, God does promise to work all things together for good.