The original image was a 1508 pen and ink drawing by gifted Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer from Nuremburg. It is told that both he and his brother Albert had ambitions to be artists but their family hadn’t the means to send them both to college. Albert agreed to work in the mines to help pay for his brother’s four years of study on the understanding that after that time, Albrecht would do the same for him.
When he returned four years later to fulfil his promise, Albrecht found his brother’s hands weak and useless, broken and arthritic from the heavy labour in the mines. The hands in the picture are the hands of Albert Durer, drawn as a loving tribute by his now famous brother.
It’s a poignant tale, suggesting a number of lessons, not least an example of brotherly love. Or how sometimes great beauty and good are brought about through painful sacrifice.
Sometimes we struggle to understand or accept some of the sadness and suffering in our lives. We have to trust that somehow in the great scheme of things, our loving Father in Heaven is working all things together for good. We do well to remember it was by His suffering on a brutal cross that the Son of God brought grace and salvation to a lost world!
But perhaps we might also think of Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Talents’ in which the Lord is disappointed and angry with the servant who doesn’t use what he’s been given for some good purpose. (Matthew 25 v 14-30)
What if Albrecht Durer had been lazy and squandered his artistic gifts and the opportunity to develop them? What if Albert had refused to work to support his brother’s education? Do we not have a duty to God and to one another to use what opportunities we have been given for the common good?
Whatever life, health, freedom, abilities and resources each of us has been given to enjoy, let us lay these as an offering at the feet of our Master today, with the prayer that He will accept and make of our lives something beautiful and good, for His glory.