NB: this is about the ongoing bushfire situation in Australia. If you, like many of us, want to contribute financially to relief efforts, here is a piece about some legitimate organizations that are raising money. And, at the end of this post, I’ll give you the link to an effort particularly close to my heart.
Having spent the last two months in Australia, I can tell you this: the bushfire situation is BAD. The story is the lede on every newscast and the front-page of every newspaper; the word “unprecedented” comes up almost as much as “quid pro quo” in the US media this past fall; and there is hardly a person in the country who is not, in some way, affected: they’ve either experienced the fires first-hand or they’re within four degrees of separation of someone who has.
People are praying, and praying mightily, for rain and God’s intervention.
“Our hearts cry out to you for those who have lost loved ones, and those who have lost properties in the wake of these ravaging fires. Father we pray, in your mercy, restrain the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damage; in your mercy protect human life.” the prayer reads. “Guard those volunteers, rural fire service personnel and emergency services who selflessly step into the breach to fight these fires. Guide police and authorities who help evacuate and shelter those who are displaced. Bring comfort and healing to all who suffer loss.”— Special prayer by Most Rev. Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney
Part of our human nature is to look for an easy answer to a complex problem that appears to be out of our control. Blame the Australian government, which has a hard time acknowledging that climate change is real. Blame the environmentalists, for the unfounded reason that they opposed the practice of “back-burning” — burning off potential fuel for fires in order to prevent bad ones from happening. It doesn’t matter what the truth is: find someone to blame, and you’ll feel better.
Rev. David Robertson, in his blog The Wee Flea, has done a masterful job of dissecting the arguments all around, with a follow-up piece on truth in general. It’s timely, since people can be left crying out, “What is truth?”
And now is the time to remember the truth that we Bible believers are privy to: Jesus warned us there’d be days like these.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”— Matthew 24:6-7
He doesn’t refer to “catastrophic bushfires” in as many words, but He does talk about “tribulation” like we’ve never seen before (Matthew 24:21), so I think we can say pretty confidently that what we’re seeing in Australia fits into that category.
And then what?
Jesus returns. Exactly when, we don’t know and aren’t supposed to: but the fact remains that these things are happening, the Bible “called it” thousands of years ago, and our “marching orders” in light of this are to point people to Jesus Christ so that no one is lost when He does come back.
Sorry: let’s change that perspective. We are to point people to Jesus Christ so that as many people as possible join Him when He returns, bringing with Him the New Jerusalem.
Fires, famines, earthquakes, incurable diseases, terrorism and struggles between “tribes” all look like bad scenes to be lamented. But they are all precursors of unimaginable glory, and we have to keep that in mind.
And that is the Truth. In that Truth is the Hope we so desperately need.
The Australian bushfire fundraising effort that is particularly close to my heart is one my daughter has taken on: all proceeds from one of her songs will go to three charities that are helping with bushfire relief. Read more about it here.