Aylan Kurdi drowned with his mother and brother while trying to escape from the terror that has overtaken their homeland. While the possibility of such a fate remains a horrific reality for countless refugees daily, this image seems momentarily to have caught our attention.
So young, small, defenceless. Undeserving of this.
As atheists curse the God they profess not to believe in, people of faith wrestle with our feelings too. Writing as a parent, I’m imagining one of my children on that beach and I’m weeping with sorrow, frustration and anger.
I’m angry at my own race who learn nothing from history; with each new generation that stirs up jealous conflict, forcing innocents into such peril.
I’m frustrated with systems and governments and crises that seem too large to address; with my own helplessness, and the shameful fact that millions who have seen this image will carry on living basically unchanged.
But mostly I’m just sad, thinking of a dad who has lost his home and livelihood, his life partner and his boys, his joy and delight.
If that were me, wouldn’t I want to shake an accusing finger at my Lord and ask, ‘Where were you when we needed you? How long must these things go on?’
As I turn, somewhat rebelliously, towards my Master I find this, that He too has tears on His face!
John’s eyewitness account records Jesus weeping with His friends Mary and Martha, who had just buried their brother a few days previously. The Maker, crying with His creation in a graveyard.
The account ends with Christ raising Lazarus back to life as a joyful foretaste of resurrection. We might expect as much from Deity. What intrigues us are those tears.
What made the Son of God weep?
Perhaps partly it was anger over His spoiled creation, designed to live, but temporarily cursed with death.
Probably there was an element of frustration with human sin that has made our present experience so.
But there is no doubt in my mind that it was also a fundamental compassion.
He loved these guys, and identified with them, sharing their sorrow. He stands beside those who mourn today, and mourns with us.
The New Testament promises that Christ will one day return in glory to ‘judge the living and the dead’. He will bring evil to a final end and gather all God’s children to our secure heavenly home. That’s good to know.
Meanwhile I will trust, even in days of mourning, in the God Who weeps with us and for us, and gave His own life to save us.