Unexpected disasters are type cast – in two ways, the natural and the human. In 1974 Cyclone “Tracy" blew away Darwin. Brisbane was seriously flooded. Recently, a tidal wave so powerful as to destroy from Indonesia to Sri Lanka. Hurricane "Katrina" moved through three states – wreckage from New Orleans to Houston. An earthquake hit Pakistan (with effects in India and Afghanistan) at the same time as
Guatemalans suffered a devastating mudslide. Bird-carrying ‘flu could become pandemic. The age-old threat – famine, drought and fire – remain to haunt and harm.
Human disasters include nuclear weapons (used, or on stand-by), "ordinary" wars, tortures, genocide, and many another atrocity thought up by haters and sick thinkers. Then we come to stolen dreams. For example, world peace. At the end of World War I the League of Nations tried to be noble. It failed because people were not good enough to sustain the dream. Another war, another attempt. We see The United Nations, propped up by talkfest and dollars, weakened by corruption. Young nations cannot join – and old spoilers are unwilling to quit. Even so, we must keep the dream of world peace alive.
"The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads. No one who walks on them will know peace." Isaiah 59:8 NIV.
At a time when nations are paralysed by fear, never knowing where and how terrorists may strike, it would do us good to admit that religion is a prime unsettler. Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland have fought for so many generations as to lose the plot. When the IRA says it is going to disarm, believers both sides of the fence are unwilling to believe it! Jews and Arabs, forever and a day, win fight each other. A decade ago, in the Balkans, it was Roman Catholics against Serbians; Orthodox Christians against Bosnian Muslims. In Sri Lanka Buddhists fight Hindus. In India it is
Hindus repelling Muslims. In Iraq, President Bush’s Christian-based freedoms are anathema to insurgents swept along by a militant version of Islam. On and off, for almost fourteen centuries, Christians have been fighting Muslims.
Curiously, war experiences of danger and disruption taught me to believe. In my kitbag was a Bible – not a superstitious talisman, for protection, but to read. Christ became as anchor to my soul. I had a confidence, a security beyond circumstance. Oh yes, a German helped me too. Georg Neumark. He put steel into my backbone – and it wasn’t a bayonet. He wrote, 17thCentury, “Leave God to order all thy ways. And hope in Him what’er betide. Thou’lt find Him in the evil days thy all-sufficient strength and guide. Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the rock that naught can move." (MHB 504)
Jesus counsels all his followers: "The time is coming when you will hear the noise of battle near at hand, and news of battles far away. See that you are not alarmed. Such things are bound to happen; but the end is still to come". Matt 24: 6-7 (NEB).
"The end?” Justice and peace. Here on earth as it is in Heaven. For a millennium! Even so, come Lord Jesus! "God never yet forsook at need the soul that trusted Him indeed."