There is a great deal of anguish and suffering right now for the California people. It is difficult to imagine the emotions carried in their hearts and minds. As I think especially about the young children, I can only imagine their confusion and fear.
I repeat, no-one is immune from a similar scenario. Unless one lives in the middle of the Sahara desert, fire is a real possibility (perhaps even in the Sahara desert, a fire could grow until it is out of control in the encampment.) Natural disasters strike any where, any time – and usually without warning. So are you prepared?
One of the most important tools of preparedness is a spiritual reservoir that waits, ready and brimming with the perspective of God. Fatigue comes with emergencies, shock comes with emergencies. And when one has a deeper perspective of suffering, that perspective can help mitigate the potent plunge into the icy pool of reality that life sometimes knocks us into.
For example, just last night on the news I heard one couple say, after surveying the embers that were once their home: “Better us than our neighbor.” What? Did I hear that right? That kind of perspective, it seems to me, can only come to one who has a larger grasp of life and its possibilities.
Just as some seeds in the forest can only sprout when exposed to the roaring temperatures of a fierce forest fire, some people seem to possess an understanding that with great suffering can come rebirth.
I would be the first to say that I feel allergic to suffering. I don’t like it. After all is said and done, I’ve tasted somewhat of it and would prefer to be absent from personal suffering. So when I read paragraphs like this one, I am in awe of those who share a transcendent perspective of tragedy:
“Instead of asking, ‘Why me?’ when something terrible happens in our lives, we need the courage and bravery to ask such questions as “What can I learn from this?’ or ‘How can I use this experience to help others?’ All difficult things give us experience and will be for our good if we do not weaken. No suffering, pain, or heartache is ever wasted if we believe that we are to be happy.
“Suffering intensifies our education; it enhances the development of qualities such as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and endure – especially when we endure it patiently – not only gives us experience but builds our characters and makes us more tender and charitable toward others. It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation that we gain the education we have come to class for in the school of human experience” (Jack R. Christianson, What’s So Bad About Being Good?, p 68.)
As I watch the suffering of the California people, I am reminded to make sure my own home is prepared in both physical ways and in spiritual ways. Those 72-hour kits aren’t just for hobbyists, folks, and neither are spiritual reservoirs of strength. May we not only help the Californians during this difficult time, but may we also make sure we are ready ourselves!