Wildfires, earthquakes and other disastrous forces of nature have been coined “acts of God”. Some insurance companies use this wording in contracts to designate disastrous events over which we seem to have no control.
This infers that when the forces of nature negatively impact our lives, God is responsible. And a possible second inference would be that, if God is responsible, it would be senseless and ineffective to pray about them.
Yet, many of us are praying for the people affected by the wildfire situation in Alberta. We pray because this activity can produce practical results – it can bring comfort, create an ability to think clearly and creatively in distressing situations, and avert a worsening of the crisis.
A good example of this was the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners in 2010, when it was extensively reported how the world, including the Pope, was praying for their safety. The rescue was consistently attributed to the power of prayer, as rescue operations were hampered by not knowing the location of the miners to even attempt bringing them to the surface.
Amid the devastation in Alberta, we’ve already seen things that may be undergirded by the prayers of many people – recent reports that the fire has not devastated the town as much as predicted and there’s been no loss of life reported. Also, prayer fosters a spirit of unselfishness, evident in the many acts of kindness – food, lodging, and donations – that have flooded the region from all parts of the country.
Still, many of us want to know where is God in all of this? Is God both good and evil – destining us to lives of joy and prosperity combined with eruptions of sadness and disaster?
In an exchange among the Apostles concerning God’s goodness, their Biblical imagery answers our inquiry with a question that goes to the heart of telling us what the nature of God is: “Have you ever known a spring to give sweet and bitter water simultaneously?” (James 3:11 Phillips)
In Genesis we have Biblical confirmation that God made everything good. (Genesis 1:31) A revolutionary thinker and author, Mary Baker Eddy, put it this way: “God is natural good, and is represented only by the idea of goodness; while evil should be regarded as unnatural, because it is opposed to the nature of Spirit, God.” (Science and Health)
I haven’t ever been in a wildfire, but I had an experience in my life when my business went into receivership and basically all my bridges were burned – I had no home, no job and no money. Regardless of what appeared to be a dire straight, I knew from previous experience, that I could rely on God’s goodness and His government in my life. My prayers affirmed that as a child of a loving God, – who could not be both loving and compassionate and at the same time absent and unaware – I could never be separated from His ever-present care. I was comforted by acts of kindness from friends; and, a home and a job came about through a set of unexpected circumstances that, to me, could only have been a result of my prayers.
God, consistently loving in nature, never created something to harm or destroy His/Her creation. And, prayer is a natural response to seeking and finding divine care, comfort and restoration.
“I will take refuge in the shadow of your [God’s] wings until the disaster is passed.”
Psalm 57:1 NIV)
This article can be read in Metroland Media news sites. Read here in Our Windsor.ca.