Before the Flood

I think one of the worst parts about this moment in history is that there are so many uncertainties in our world right now, and there is so much on the line right now. Nor is there any clear path forward, and every answer seems to point to destruction in some form. So any additional uncertainty that comes our way is just yet another stress on top of already a huge amount of stress. And we’re in an awful position where we have to wait and see what happens and trust in God that somehow He’ll make it all right in the end.

And so, this picture has come to my mind frequently as of late…

Noah: The Eve of the Deluge, by John Linnell, c. 19th century. Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, United States.
Noah: The Eve of the Deluge, by John Linnell, c. 19th century. Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, United States.

It is Noah and his family on the Eve of the deluge, right before the whole world will be engulfed in a flood. The ark has been built. The animals are lined up neatly, two by two, ready to go into the ark. Everything is going according to plan, technically.

And yet, I love this artwork because it shows Noah’s family, in the middle of doing the work that God entrusted them. And yet, while doing this important work which God entrusted them with, they are looking at the sky, and reacting to it in such a human way. Noah looks out at the whole ominous scene with a stern, and yet calm face. He is ready to face the storm and has absolute faith in God. But everyone else seems to have a different reaction

The man on the left, with two dogs at his heels, seems to be rushing around, trying to get things done at the last minute, though it’s not clear what he is doing, since he seems to be too distracted with the impeding storm to really be doing anything useful. Perhaps he is moving with a spirit of last minute panic? Perhaps he is overwhelmed? It is hard to tell!

Then there’s a woman sitting to the left of Noah who only seems to be interested in staring at the storm. Though we do not see her face, the way her hands are so rigid and the way that she seems to grab at the dirt with her left hand indicates that she is frozen in terror. She has dropped the things about her and has seemed to lost herself in the storm.

There’s the woman who is weeping copiously on Noah. She is able to stand supported by him, but she is still clearly upset and crying at the whole scene… which, honestly, is completely understandable given that things look absolutely grim.

Then there are more people in the background which are harder to see. In between the frozen girl and Noah, you see a man pointing out some animals to a woman, who raises her hand to block the brilliant light from the storm in order to see what he is looking at. Then, to the right of the crying woman, a woman, who is standing up, directs a man, who is sitting down, and points to the ark.

All four of these background characters seem to be doing their best to ignore the storm and do all the last minute things which have to be done before the flood comes. Yes, they are harder to see. Yes, the focus of the picture is definitely not on them. And yet, they are doing important things nonetheless.

And so! I invite you to look through the picture and find out who you are and where you are in this picture.

And then I want to remind you that all of these people who are portrayed in this picture are saved.

And also, no matter what uncertainties are thrown our way, let us trust in God and do the work that He has entrusted us with in this strange time.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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