Russell and Duenes

Churchill’s Face Went Gray

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ChurchillThere were now over seven million of them fleeing from the Germans, swarming down the highways, shuffling, exhausted, aching from the strain of heavy loads on their backs. No one had told them to evacuate the battlefields; they were evacuating themselves. Barns, sheds, and garages had disgorged into throughways an extraordinary collection of vehicles: farm carts, trucks, horse-drawn carts, hay wagons, and ancient automobiles saddled with sagging loads of mattresses, kitchen utensils, family treasures, and bric-a-brac. Cars bombed by the Luftwaffe stood in flames, and here and there among straggling vagabonds lay corpses of children and the very old, who, unable to keep up, had been machine-gunned by Nazi pilots who saw panic as an ally of their comrades in the Wehrmacht. William Manchester and Paul Reid, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, 64 (2012).

This is what Winston Churchill saw while flying over the French front in May of 1940, if one could even call it a “front.” But it came to my mind today as I was reading the Scriptures: “For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed…For all our days pass away under your wrath, we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength, eighty, yet their span is toil and trouble. They are soon gone and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?” (Ps. 90:7-11).

I’m not saying that the French in particular were being judged by God. What I’m saying is what the Psalmist says: The whole world is under God’s wrath because of our sin. We tend to think that life should generally go smoothly, that something is wrong when it doesn’t. But that’s not this world. The seven-million strong mass of humanity flowing out of northern France as the Nazi panzers approached is more the norm. Millions will go to bed tonight as refugees, fatherless, homeless, hungry, politically or socially oppressed, depressed, melancholic, in pain, and without hope. I’m feeling almost guilty for saying so, given that my life goes quite well by comparison, and the general numbness of my feeling. But it causes me to feel a good deal less confident that things should go well. “In this world you will have trouble,” said Jesus. Yet He also said, “Take courage, I have overcome the world.” Therefore, we ought to pray with the Psalmist: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12).



Written by Michael Duenes

April 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm

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