Saturday, May 5, 2012

"The Scream"

Sometimes it’s hard to understand what something is worth and what people are willing to pay for it.  This week, "The Scream" by Edvard Munch went up for sale.  Estimates said that the painting would sell for around $80 million, but it blew right by that and sold for just under $120 million.

For me personally it’s hard to get my brain around numbers that big.  To get a handle on the magnitude of this number, imagine a stack (not end to end, but a stack) of 120 million dollar bills[1].  That’s;
  • 39,960 feet tall
  • 132 football fields
  • 7.5 miles

This means that you could stack dollar bills from;
  • The White House, to the Washington Monument, to the Lincoln Memorial four times with quite a bit left over
  • Lake Wales airport to Chalet Suzanne, with a little bit to spare

As we look at this painting, we see a very intense and disturbing image.  But the story behind the picture is even more powerful.  Munch writes in his diary;

"I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through[2]."

Did you hear and experience his words…
  • feeling exhausted
  • trembling with anxiety
  • an infinite scream

It seems like these feelings and words were written just the other day as I listened to several friends…
  • Have to sell the house, we can’t afford the mortgage
  • Doctors found a lump and its growing
  • Business associates lied and stole from me
  • Working 4 part-time jobs just trying to make ends meet
  • Several broken marriages/relationships
  • Child is in jail again

“The Scream” is more than a portrait of one man; it’s a power picture of who we are and what we experience.  We all experience hurt, pain, brokenness, rejection, exhaustion, anxiety.

We've all met people that put up a front that everything is OK.  I have a friend that tells everyone how wonderful his life, family and career are.  They all seem so self-confident and happy in all they do and say.

On one occasion I casually asked my friend a question about something he wrote.  His immediate and strong reaction was to lash out with hatred and venom.  After licking my wounds to recover from the verbal and email lambasting, I wondered where it came from.  Months later, in a moment of vulnerability, he shared his feelings about the devastating impact of his parents’ divorce.  I was able to put the pieces together, he was confident and positive on the outside, but just under the surface was a hurt and insecure child.

One American athlete tells the story of his lifelong dream to be an Olympian. He labored, struggle and sacrificed everything towards his goal of becoming a gold medalist. Through sheer willpower, discipline and courage, he made the Olympic team.  Success, awards and praise seemed to follow him everywhere.  He entered the Olympic stadium, and with the entire world watching, he walked up to the starting blocks for the race of his life.  With the starting gun about to go off, the gold medal was within reach.  The culmination of his entire life was right in front of him, all he had to do was win this one race.  Then, out of nowhere, his mind was suddenly flooded with the distracting thought; “I wonder if my father is watching."  That momentary distraction cost him the gold medal[3].

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re in exactly the same place. We put on an exterior that shows nothing but confidence and success. But on the inside were hurt, weak, yearning to be loved, comforted and healed.

I've looked all around for an answer to my personal pain, weakness, failure and need.  I tried a number of “self-medicating” solutions for healing and relief from the painful screams of life.  At the end of the day, all these failed because they were dependent on the problem – me.

Jesus offers a totally unique solution to our problem.  He does not say that we’re OK and can heal ourselves, doing things to fix life.  Jesus comes and says that he takes the weight of our weakness on himself and gives us newness of life.

Jesus said, I came to give you life, and may have it abundantly.  John 10:10

He alone is the solution to “The Scream” of our lives at a price we can all afford…belief in Him.

© GLAD Associates, 2012

[1] Contact if you’re interested in the math behind these calculations/measurements
[2] Nice 22.01.1892Edvard Munch
[3] Jesus, Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias, Page 14

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