Showing posts with label storm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label storm. Show all posts

31 October 2012

Sandy storming in

Hurricane Sandy has caused devastation and continues to bring more trouble as it heads into Canada. Why do disasters like this happen? We consider some of the common views held by people of faith and by those who see no need to believe in any deity.

Hurricane Sandy in New York
The Caribbean islands and coasts and then the north-eastern coast of the USA took a major hit when Hurricane Sandy swept in. It has now weakened to post-tropical cyclone status but continues to drop large amounts of snow and rain as it heads north into Canada. Winds, although much reduced, remain dangerous and damaging.

Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Sandy. Loss of life has been relatively low, things could have been far, far worse. But for families who have lost loved ones this is no real comfort. The losses in terms of property and flood damage and infrastructure are, of course, immense. Rebuilding will take a long time, countless homes and businesses are without power. There's no denying the scale and seriousness of this storm.

Global warming - We are living in changing times. Not only was this a powerful storm, it was also the largest Atlantic hurricane on record. Nothing this size has ever been seen before. The storm surge flooded considerable areas along parts of the US coastline.

What are we to make of all this?

Although no single event proves or disproves the reality of global warming and climate change, this record-breaking storm adds fresh evidence to that already accumulated. It makes it that bit harder to deny that the climate has altered, that bit harder to conclude we are doing no harm by pouring large volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sandy should, at least, give us all pause to think and reconsider the evidence.

Considering faith - And what should people of faith make of Sandy's devastating effects? No doubt there will be voices from some supporters of Islam claiming that the storm is Allah's retribution upon  the 'Great Satan'. But most Muslims will not think of it in this way or say any such thing, instead feeling sorrow and sympathy towards fellow humans suffering pain and loss.

Atheists, on the other hand, will take the view that such things happen from time to time. It's regrettable and very sad, but it's how the world works. It's up to us to do what we can to avoid problems - don't build on flood plains, create structures that will withstand earthquakes and violent winds. Don't live at the bottom of steep slopes or close to volcanoes. Commendably, many will help to rescue and support those who are hurt or suffer loss.

But what about those of us who follow the teaching and example of Jesus? The majority may not give a second thought to wondering why such things happen. They too will feel sorrow and sympathy and many will pray for those affected by the storm. Others, however, will give serious thought to the question, 'Why?'

In particular, a common thought following any natural disaster is, 'If there is an Almighty Creator in charge of everything that happens, and if this mighty and powerful person is good, why are such things allowed to happen? Why was the world not created to be a safe place?

Some will see disasters as the consequence of sin coming into the world. Others may see it just as the atheists do - this is the way it is.

Another way - I believe we can do much better than this. I was drawn to express my views recently in a comment exchange on another blog. In the next few days I plan to take my comment and expand it as an article here. Watch this space. (Posted 2nd November, Why is life dangerous?)

Meanwhile, here's an earlier article that seems relevant. It records some thoughts we had during a meeting soon after the Haitian earthquake in 2010.

See also:

30 September 2010

Eaton Ford - At sea in a storm

Jim is away on holiday but Sean and I planned to travel to The Bull in Watton at Stone to meet David. Due to unforseen circumstances David had to call the meeting off at short notice, so eventually it was just me and Sean and Jesus at my place. I include the Lord in the list because he really was unmistakably meeting with us this evening.

A storm on the coast of Israel, near CarmelAfter our usual start of coffee and a chat we began to focus on Yahshua. Quite soon, Sean shared a picture of a storm at sea. Some friends we know are in a storm like this, driving headlong into it. But Yahshua can calm the storm - he's done that sort of thing before! Our friends are moving into the storm but beyond that, everything is calm.

This reminded me of the storm on Galilee and how Yahshua had actually walked past his followers in the boat. They were battling a strong headwind and they were just terrified when they saw a figure walking on the water. But he told them, 'It's me, don't be afraid!' And then they called out to him and Peter began to walk on the water too. But it was essential that they communicated with him.

We need to communicate with him too. Reading the passage in Matthew 14 later I noticed that when Yahshua stepped into the boat the wind immediately died down. How we need him in our boat when a storm blows up! Something else that seems significant is that when the storm took place they were in the dark - it was the middle of the night and they'd been battling the headwind for a long time.

Sean remembered that Yahweh once said, 'I have plans to prosper you'. He was speaking through Jeremiah to the exiled people of Israel (Jeremiah 29:11-14). If the Almighty did this for them, won't he also do as much for us?

Sean thought that these truths are there to point us to him and give him an opportunity to show us his miraculous ability. For example, he is able to change our hearts to love him just a little more - we don't need to be able to do it, even when we can't - he can.

I imagined one of our friends having a conversation with the people who have mistreated him. He was saying, 'I forgive you. I forgive you for believing the lies you were told about me. I forgive you for not believing what I told you.' And I became aware that the pavement (or patio) was flooded. It was only an inch or two deep and the water was stained pink with blood. The details were very clear but I could only see the stonework and brickwork - no people or plants or anything else. The ground in front of me was covered with large paving slabs and a red brick wall rose from the edge of the paving. The bricks were old and crumbly. I have no idea what this means.

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