It’s been an extremely difficult time for farmers and for small country towns and communities.
In many places, there has not been a so-called normal season for three or many more years, and the unrelenting drought continues to grind people and the environment into the dust. A progression of negative superlatives are required to describe the situation—serious, very serious, desperate and beyond desperate. As one farmer recently remarked, “We’re in unchartered territory, we haven’t been here before.”
In the last twelve months, I’ve been saddened to see bush trees dying, eucalypts and wattles. More recently, we’ve experienced dust storms and in several areas, terrible fires driven by ferocious winds.
Some commentators have been quick to attribute this to God’s punishment for the nation’s wickedness, and whilst sin does have its consequences and an initial reading of some biblical passages would seem to give some credence to this, closer and further examination shows God pulling back from such actions. In fact, the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin give an impression of a caring God, hoping and searching for us to the point of preoccupation to then suddenly reign down such vindictive and deliberate punishment.
Although circumstances are grave and times for many are bad, the faithfulness of God is at work in many people’s lives offering hope, love and a very real foundation and anchor for times that for many are beyond desperate.
The accompanying photo was taken a few weeks ago and has become a powerful reminder to me of God’s persistent and enduring faithfulness. It is the Catholic Church in Taroom. As a blanket of dust settled over the town and obscured the night sky, the cross on the church on the hill pierced through the darkness of the dust haze. God is indeed faithful!
The Rev Graham Slaughter is the Minister for the Leichhardt Patrol.
Visit the Queensland Synod website for information on how you can support the disaster relief appeal.