The link above is to a New York Times photography blog entry that depicts the state of many of Sadaam Hussein's former palaces. They are opulent rubble heaps. The blogger aptly references Shelley's poem, Ozymandias:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
I was struck with a similiar feeling when we visited Westminster Abbey for the first time, and walked over graves whose markings were obliterated. Being buried in the abbey is one of the nation's highest honors, and yet there are bones there that no one can identify.
How fleeting is the success and praise we so desperately strive for here. Isaiah 40 and Psalm 2 are mighty passages that showcase the strength of the eternal God. Here are some selections from Isaiah 40:
6 A voice says, "Cry out."
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
I'm going to meditate on that promise today. Lord knows I have no earthly might or prestige to invigorate me. Maybe that will help me to see His power and strength.
Thank you Lord for being mighty over all the rulers of earth, whether they bow the knee to you or not.