There's an article on the BBC News website today about "The beauty and sadness of Beachy Head." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-39032111)
It is one of the most iconic images of England. The white cliffs towering up from the sea. It's part of the South Downs national park. Glorious countryside that has featured in films like Harry Potter and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Rolling green grassland that invites you to sit and have a picnic and gaze out over the channel. A place that's hard to beat on a sunny day.
Yet the name Beachy Head doesn't make most of us think of picnics and playing with our kids. It's a place associated more than any other with suicide. Many people have visited the tallest cliffs on the south coast not to admire their grandeur, but to jump to their deaths. Gravity bringing an end to lives that they didn't feel were worth living.
Beauty and tragedy together in one place. It is the nature of our world. The nature of human life.
There is so much to wonder at. To marvel at. You don't even have to watch "Planet Earth II". If you step outside your front door with your eyes open to the world around you then you will see the incredible intricacy and colours of nature, even in the bleakest of urban landscapes.
In the same way, time and time again people demonstrate that they are capable of incredible acts of kindness. Of love. Of generosity. Spontaneously putting others before themselves.
The natural world rages against us. Whether it's storm Doris smashing her way through the UK. Or Tsunami causing uncountable loss of life around the fringes of the Pacific. Or earthquakes flattening historic Italian villages. The natural world never feels safe. Nor do people.
We live in fear of each other. Most people wouldn't want to walk through our city centres on their own late at night. Our relationships, even with those we love the most, are marred by conflict and sadness. Sickness debilitates many. Daily pain is not uncommon.
And then there's death. Carving a path of grief through our brief lived happiness.
Beauty and sadness. It's the world we live in. But it's not the way the world will always be.
Because the beauty of creation is a legacy of the perfect world that God created and the sadness of sin and death is a result of humanities rebellion against Him. But at the cross God the Son chose to give up his perfect life. Not in an act of hopelessness or helplessness. Not because of self-pity or self-loathing. But because of His great love. At the cross Jesus reconciles creation to it's creator.
"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19-20
The result is that all who trust that Christ died for them look forward to a perfect new creation. This world with all the sadness removed and only the beauty remaining. A world where there will be no more cliff top crosses to mark the deaths of desperate people. And we will picnic at Beachy Head in the very presence of our God. Loving him and each other perfectly.