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11th June: What is Man?

What is man that thou makest much of him and turnest thy thoughts towards him, only to punish him morning by morning or to test him every hour of the day? Job 7:17-18 (NEB)

From 1942 to 1946 I was a medical student in Tokyo, and learned much about what the war really was. In March 1945 downtown Tokyo was heavily bombed and largely destroyed by fire, leaving thousands of half-charred bodies scattered over the burnt earth and scorched debris. Hundreds of soaked and swollen corpses were floating in the Sumida river together with the packages of clothes and utensils which people were carrying on their shoulders when they fled from the fire. It was a scene which nobody could bear to look at.

In August 1945 atomic bombs exploded above the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leaving thousands of burnt bones and scorched bodies with eroded skins, depilated heads and bleeding limbs. The pictures and paintings of the time tell us how abhorrent it was.

What then impressed me most was that man is so feeble and subject to sorrow. 'Dust you are, to dust you shall return'. After becoming a Christian, I could realise that God makes much of us and turns his thought towards us.

Take pity on us, Lord, as we are feeble and subject
to sorrow. Make us strong in faith to follow you,
serving our neighbours who need our love to them.

Further reading: Mt 6:25-33.


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