Van Gogh: His Life, His Faith


Vincent Van Gogh - "The Good Samaritan"

Vincent Van Gogh is known for many things, mainly his vibrant, beautiful, and unique paintings. Like all of us Van Gogh was a broken and flawed human being, a misunderstood genius whose life ended tragically. Vincent's father was a minister in the Dutch reformed tradition. Vincent grew up in the Netherlands developing a fervent faith, and a passion for ministry. He wanted to study theology, but after failing to qualify for seminary, he instead became a missionary to coal miners in Belgium.

'Vincent was a very generous man. He understood that unconditional love of God extended to unconditional love for others. He would never recognize love that was not an action,' said William Havlicek, author of Van Gogh's Untold Journey. He was eventually fired from his position and retuned home to have a nervous breakdown that would lead him into a life of extreme depression.

Van Gogh sought to serve God instead through artistic expression as he mastered his own interpretation on the Post-Impressionist style. He stated: '...to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God. One man wrote or told it in a book, another in a picture.'

In addition to his works that illustrated creation like The Starry Night and Sunflowers, he also painted many explicitly Christian works, based on events in the Bible. Paintings like The Good Samaritan, The Raising of Lazarus, The Sower, and The Sheaf Binder center on the person of Christ.

Vincent once wrote to a friend: 'Christ alone, of all the philosophers, magicians, etc., has affirmed eternal life as the most important certainty, the infinity of time, the futility of death, the necessity and purpose of serenity and devotion. He lived serenely, as an artist greater than all other artists, scorning marble and clay and paint, working in the living flesh.

Vincent Van Gogh’s life leaves a legacy of personal faith, deep sacrifice, and a profound artistic expression. Like Van Gogh none of us are exempt from the deepest, most painful kinds of struggles or suffering in life. Yet with Christ at the center, no matter the adversities we can still be a light to the world around us.

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