Dating back as far as 1911 in the March 28th issue of the Syracuse Standard the cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” was first used by the newspaper’s editor Tess Flanders. This fascinating cliché quite literally has stood the test of time. Regardless of the era in which it is used people understand its intent.
From incredibly creative works of art and sculpture, to cleverly captured photographs, millions have stood amazed and awed at an artist’s ability to portray a moment in time. Be it on the battlefield, in nature, or in every-day life, these pictures tell stories that defy the barriers of language, time, culture, or circumstance.
Rembrandt and Van Gogh were Dutch. Picasso was Spanish. Monet French. Da Vinci was Italian. Yet, when we view their works, we’re mystified by how much they transcend human language to tell stories through their works. Why is that? Some things don’t require translation.
Pictures taken from 9/11 tell the horrific story at times even better than eyewitness accounts, because sometimes a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.
Prior to the Vietnam War, the American public had spent the better part of a century insulated from the atrocities of combat, while soldiers witnessed first-hand the barbaric bloodshed. But the moment the public was provided with pictures and video of the horrors of war, their conscience was assaulted as they viewed the violence from the comfort of their living rooms.
Some things do not require a translation.
While these examples spell out stories of tragedy and hardship, there are other things in life we experience everyday that require no translation but have immediate and profound implications upon our lives and those with whom we interact.
Kindness, courtesy, compassion, mercy, and care seldom if ever require translation – they’re known as love in virtually any language.
A smile, a firm handshake, a warm embrace, eyes welled up with tears – no real translation necessary. With very few exceptions, we can all relate on some level to these feelings and moments. They speak to us in ways no human language ever could.
Now, I point you to a blood-soaked tree with the remnants of a brutally beaten and battered innocent man who was precariously nailed and pierced through, leaving a fountain of blood and water streaming out of his side splashing on the ground below; no translation required.
But three days later, a miracle of monumental and galactic proportions took place that defied description. A sight no one had ever witnessed before; This same man who had been carefully laid to rest had triumphantly risen from that grave by the resurrection power of God! An empty tomb where once the very much dead Christ laid? No translation required.
Peter attempts to describe a state of joy as “unspeakable,” defying description, a joy so profound and so powerful that the human language falls short every single time. This is what we can enjoy in the life of the Risen Savior Jesus Christ.
His unwavering love, His unending mercy, His boundless compassion toward His children? Mortal words fail us.
Whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (1 Peter 1:8)
Some things not only do not require a translation. They defy description altogether.
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