Another newsletter . . . following cyclones and disasters

Most people I speak to don’t quite know what to make of what’s happened so far this year. Catastrophic floods, bushfires, terrifying cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, political revolutions and brutal civil wars have flashed past in quick order since January. “What’s next?” is the thought in everyone’s mind. We’re confident things will be alright in the long run, but there is that nagging doubt: “What if they aren’t? Will our lives ever be the same?”
Young people feel these things too. Like their parents they can’t help but be affected by the tragedies of recent weeks and months. Like us, they look for answers that will help them make sense of what is happening in the world. If they ask us, what should we tell them?
Many adults don’t like to think about such things at all. They prefer to stick with what seem to be everyday certainties like the family home and car, their job, friends and their plans for the weekend. Their response to tragedies is to mumble “how terrible” and then change the subject. They prefer the comfort of everyday routine. Tragically, for many people, even in this part of the world, these ‘certainties’ have been ripped away. Answers about what’s next or whether things will ever be the same, can be hard to come by.
A smaller group of people subscribes to doomsday scenarios. The Bible, particularly the book of Revelation, is held up as proof that the world is surely soon coming to an end. Wars, political unrest, floods and earthquakes are certain indicators of an imminent end. This group seems to forget that such tragedies have always been around at least since Adam and Eve, and the world has continued to limp along. Contrary to what some might think, there has never been a time that tragedy has not been snapping at the heels of human beings. I believe people who try to scare others into salvation in this way both misrepresent the Bible and misunderstand history.
Still others try to suggest to us that disasters are a payment from God to humans for their sinfulness. In my opinion people who do these things deal in guilt, also misrepresent the Bible and have missed the central message of the Christian Gospel.
I hope that your child does not hear these messages from us at Peace Lutheran College.
I hope he or she hears something similar to the following:
Firstly, the world as we know it will certainly not last for ever but no one except God knows when it will come to an end. Anyone telling you that they have inside knowledge on this matter is mistaken and should be ignored.
Secondly, we may indeed bring disaster and misfortune upon ourselves and others by the stupid or evil things we do. But to point at major natural disasters and claim they are the direct result of people’s sinfulness is absolute nonsense.
As long as we live in this world we will struggle with natural disasters, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we happen to be.
God’s gift to us is that through each and every disaster in our lives, Jesus is there to hold us, to protect us, to assure us that we matter, and to remind us that there is always a new beginning, a happy ending.
That is what I hope your children will learn in a myriad of different ways at our College. We are not there to burden them with guilt or to frighten them into salvation. Our job is to teach them well, and to let them know no matter what happens to their house, their plans, or possessions, that they are important to God who made them, who created the universe and who is its sovereign Lord.


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