There is something amazing in the human spirit that keeps people going after having critical faculties taken from them and after facing such tremendous tragedies in their lives. Even so many of the greatest of us in the arts, music, and literature were tortured souls that still went on to aspire to greatness. Vincent van Gogh was such a tortured soul. The great Dutch impressionist painter seems to have struggled most of his life with poor physical and mental health. At one point during his young adulthood, he had planned to be a minister. When he failed the entrance exam to a seminary, he took a missionary position in a small town where he vowed to live as poorly as the people he was serving. However, this life of poverty was criticized by the local clergy. They claimed that he was bringing dishonor to the dignity of the clergy. Van Gogh then fled that town, moving back in with his parents as he would do off and on. At one point, his father became concerned about his son’s mental health and tried to have him committed. Van Gogh left his father’s house soon after that and seemed to be constantly on the move for the rest of his life. He continued to struggle greatly with his physical and mental health, leading him to reject God in spite of the early fervor in his life. His mental health steadily deteriorated, leading to the famous incident in which he cut off his left ear and offered it to a prostitute that he had befriended. Eventually, distraught about his difficulties, he would take his life by shooting himself in the chest with a revolver. Tragic as his life was, and tragic as his death was, in spite of all his difficulties, he has produced some of the most beautiful paintings in western art.
There seem to have been so many great people who struggled with misery in their lives, but have gone on to still make a tremendous mark on the world. I believe that it is because God has put so much ability into mankind. In spite of our fallen state, and our continued sin, which continually makes us seek out God, there is yet something so strong in the human spirit, and there is such great capability in each of us so that any one of us can aspire to greatness. The Bible tells us: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:3-5). Man is God’s crowning achievement in creation. Moreover, God put so much loving work into man that, despite the worst that life can throw at us, we can still aspire to do something great in this world. Why did God put so much into man? He did so because of love. God loves us with a love so great that He even gave His greatest treasure to redeem us back to Him; He gave of His only, most beloved Son.
I pray today that you will remember the tremendous love that God has for you. If there had only been you, only one person in the entire world that needed redeeming, make no mistake about it, God would have sent His Son just for you.