I couldn't have been older than 4 or 5 and it is one of my first childhood memories. It was a recurrent nightmare that I had as a small child. In a nutshell, in my dream I'm always trying to get to my parents' bedroom as I'm being chased by some sort of menacing presence. I never did see the face of this monster but it was so real to me. Of course the faster I ran, the faster it ran, always getting closer and closer. In the end I ended up shouting out in a loud scream and I woke up being consoled, making me feel very safe and much loved in the arms of my parents.
I thought about that dream just this month as I noticed on the news that one of the famous versions of "The Scream", by Norwegian artist Edward Munch, was sold at auction for just shy of $120 million (£74 million). That's it in the photo (left); the picture itself is just over 100 years old. There are actually four original versions of "The Scream" in existence. The one sold was a pastel and there are two paintings and another pastel in Museums in the city of Oslo in Norway.
I wondered what had happened in Edward Munch's life to paint such a work of anguish and abject terror. As it turns out, Edward was a troubled character; scarred by the early deaths of his mother and sister. He later became an alcoholic and suffered a serious breakdown. As for the setting of the picture itself, the scene is an area south of Oslo. It seems it was a notorious suicide spot and was near the city's lunatic asylum and also a large animal slaughterhouse. Munch's own sister, Laura, had been locked up in that lunatic asylum and it has been suggested that Edward Munch had probably gone up there to visit her. Perhaps the screams of the animals being slaughtered in combination with the screams he had heard from the asylum had greatly influenced him. The one thing we do know about how Munch came to paint that scene was what he wrote about it himself… "I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."
No wonder Munch painted such a troubled piece of work! So how come it has become so iconic in popular culture today? You can see "The Scream" reproduced in different forms in everything from tea towels to teapots and from soap to the Simpsons. Could I suggest that it 'rings a bell' with most of us? Let's be honest, life can be tough, cruel and oppressive at times. There IS a lot of pain and anguish in this world. There is also an unseen conflict raging about in the supernatural world…
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
I also thought about the Biblical place of screams, called Hell (or Hades or Sheol or Gehenna). Few talk about it anymore but it is a truth from the Bible and Jesus spoke about that place even more than He did about Heaven. To read more about this place, just go here. Hell, does it really exist?
I'm sorry that this has been somewhat of a dark Thought this month! However, there's no darkness without light, so please read on…
Just one more scream to talk about and this one was the climax of God's solution to reconcile us to Himself. For our eternal salvation Jesus was tortured and nailed to a wooden cross. Just before He gave up His life to pay for our sins, He too uttered a scream of agony…
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34)
The Son of God subjected Himself to a horrendous death because He loved you! The sin we all have in our lives caused a huge gap between us and our Maker. Jesus filled that gap with His sacrifice on our behalf.
Have you ever asked God to forgive you by accepting that you are a sinner and that Jesus died for you?
…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (Romans 10:9)
If your answer is 'no' please think of doing just that today, I promise it will be your best decision ever.
We can all get ourselves in a mess in this life. Bad decisions, bad habits and bad relationships can find us in a living nightmare. You may feel there is no way out, no escape from your situation. You may have grown tired with the constant pressure of it all too. Like the character in Munch's famous artwork, you just feel like screaming at the world with all its inequalities and injustices.
Maybe it's time to consider allowing your heavenly Father to intervene in your life and provide comfort and security in a way reminiscent to what I experienced from my parents all those years ago. He is the perfect Parent who hears our cry and who is always there.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)
Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. (Psalm 103: 13-14)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Until next month then (DV)…
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!