My dad found a dead hummingbird today, picked it up with toothpicks, carried it into our kitchen. The afternoon sunlight draped itself over the small, still form like a funeral shroud. I was amazed at the color of the creature, how the feathers on its neck shone a dull auburn one minute and then, in a different slant of light, blazed that brilliant red that gives the bird its name: ruby-throated hummingbird. The green of its back was soft yet shimmering, contrasting starkly with the pure white of its stomach. Its feet were tiny, delicate, and its long, slim beak rested gently on the paper plate. As I stared at such minuscule perfection, I thought that it just felt wrong. That fresh, once-living beauty, lying listless on a manmade dish, those wings that once beat over fifty times a minute now curled up tightly, forever frozen. It was wrong, wrong, all wrong. There was nothing to tell me why, exactly, no scientific facts to explain my aversion to this death. But I knew it was wrong.
We all do.
I think that this involuntary, almost unconscious reaction to death that we have is one of the greatest proofs of God’s existence. I think that our dismay at beauty marred points to the truth of the Bible. Why do I feel this way? we all wonder, and yet what religion really answers that question except Christianity? Christianity says we hate death because it is a result of sin, a result of our disobedience against God. It says we yearn for uncorrupted, eternal beauty because that was what we were originally made for—Eden, heaven, perfection, everlasting life. God is all of that, and we are made in His image. The thirst for loveliness, the desire for forever is woven into the fabric of our souls because it is woven into God’s.
Andrew Peterson says it so very well:
If nature’s red in tooth and in claw
Then it seems to me that she’s an outlaw
‘Cause every death is a question mark
At the end of the book of a beating heart
And the answer is scrawled in the silent dark
On the dome of the sky in a billion stars
But we cannot read these angel tongues
And we cannot stare at the burning sun
And we cannot sing with these broken lungs
So we kick in the womb and we beg to be born
Deliverance, O Lord!
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart …
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11a