July 1, 2013

Peace in an unnatural disaster

Even a pagan will sometimes admit that God works in mysterious ways. It is their attempt to explain the unexplainable. For what happened yesterday, I might try to explain that we met an angel, but she was just an ordinary person. Yet somehow she was in the right place at the right time. We knew God was at work and it was definitely goose-bump mysterious.

My sister, whose house is flooded along with thousands of other homes in High River, called and asked if we could courier them some rubber boots. Southern Alberta is sold out and they hope to be allowed back in their home in a week or so. The flood water is contaminated and dangerous, requiring protective clothing, but she said no rush on the boots. A few days from now would be fine.

We went to a local store (our city is four hours from hers) only to discover they too had a run on rubber boots and the remainder were limited in type and size. As we pondered the shelves, a young woman was doing the same. I can’t remember who started the conversation, but we discovered that she was also from High River and looking for rubber boots. She already knew that her basement was full to the joists with water, her losses great, yet she was hopefully buying supplies for herself and her friends.

We told our story and she exclaimed, “I know your sister and her husband. I will take the boots to her. I’m heading  that way as soon as I leave the store.” We bought the only boots that would fit, some socks to go with them, and put them in the back of this “angel’s” vehicle, already packed to the brim with “after the flood” equipment.

When we got home, I checked the news to find that the zone where my sister’s home is located opens tomorrow for people to go in and check their homes. The boots arrived last night; she needs them today!

We praised God together, and with goose bumps. She will line up with several thousand others to examine the damage to her home, yet is astonished every day at the care of God in this disaster. While some are angry and threatening authorities, complaining, and in total confusion, God has granted this child of His an incredible peace as she trusts in Him.

Yesterday I wrote how those who are at peace with God are also in harmony with nature.

For you shall be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you. (Job 5:23)

That harmony could be compared to life in Eden before sin and the Fall, and before the curse of thistles and of thorns. It points ahead to the Bible’s last picture of a new recreated earth that will be in harmony with new recreated humanity. Both picture the kinship between nature and human moral life. Paul said, “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). The world is waiting for sin to be conquered.

God has much to say about the relationship between humanity and our world. The climate-change people have it right that man affects our environment, but they miss this one important aspect; that relationship is more about sin in general than the sin of pollution in particular. We ruin the earth with our garbage and carelessness, but we also ruin it by every sin we sin, making it groan.

I’m not saying that flood is a result of human sin. Actually, it was the result of a massive storm that followed the converging of a few unusual weather fronts, something that has never happened before. While this could be the “groaning of creation” in protest to the sins of humanity, I cannot say that. Whatever is going on in a global sense is beyond me. But I can see how God uses the situations in this world, even disasters, to show His incredible love to His people.

My sister and other Christians who suffer discover things about God we otherwise would not know. We also discover that the horrors in the world that seems to be stacked against us are part of this grand story of God’s care. The voices of the winds and waves, even of crap-filled flood waters can reveal a glory that is often hidden when life is good and without incident.

Today’s devotional says that humans either “quicken or deaden everything we see by the life we live and the sins that we commit” and that truly “bad men or women do not experience the glories of summer” just as for them “there really is no heaven.”

That is affirming that whatever summer (or even a flood) means to anyone is more of a moral and spiritual question. When we are at peace with God, we can be at peace with nature, even when it is hostile and trying to destroy us – because even in wild and swirling devastation, we can see the love of God. 

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