I woke this morning with a heavy heart. The toll continues to rise in Australia – now 171 confirmed dead and the arsonists who started many of the fires will be accused of mass murder according to the Prime Minister. Whole communities have been completely wiped out by the raging fires.
The question that many are asking of course is where is God in the midst of this horror. And I must confess there are no easy answers. I certainly do not believe that God wants disasters like this to occur, nor do I believe that it is punishment for our sins. More than anything I believe that God is present in the grief and the suffering of families who have lost everything, including loved ones in the fires . God cares deeply and intimately for all human kind. God is with us in our grief and wants to comfort us in our anguish.
Last night Tom and I talked to our good friends Gary and Ev Heard, Baptist pastors in Melbourne Victoria. They are in the process of putting together a team of chaplains who can go into the devastated communities later this week to grieve with and comfort those who are affected. In their actions I see the presence of a God who grieves with us in the midst of all our pains. I see God too in the dedication of the many hundred of volunteer fire fighters who are risking their lives to protect other peoples’ lives and property. Such self sacrifice definitely bears the fingerprints of God. Others have responded by opening their homes, by sending clothes and blankets and food. Still others have responded with gifts of money. All of these responses come, I beleive from the heart of God which resides deep within all of us.
There is no way that we can understand when disaster strikes but we can look for and encourage the presence of God in its midst. In that spirit I would ask you once again to pray for those affected by these fires
- Pray for the protection of fire fighters and police who are seeking to get the fires under control
- Pray for those who have lost loved ones and homes
- Pray for my friends Gary and Ev Heard and others like them who seek to provide spiritual and emotional support at this time
- Pray that God would have mercy and send rain to help extinguish the fires.