A new year has begun, new people are being posted in (including two new chaplains), and new challenges await us… but if I am realistic I have to admit that in the coming year I will be confronted by the same old issues. We live in a continent that has always been plagued by bush fires, and this week we have again witnessed their destructive devastation right across the country, and not just ‘somewhere else’ but in my own area, resulting in me not being able to get home one night! At this time of the year we don’t expect lush green paddocks and bushland, but I can assure you that the area along Mates Gully Road out towards where I live at Tarcutta is now a blackened wasteland. Thankfully, no homes were lost (in our area – yet) but it was obviously touch and go for many. People in other areas were not so lucky, particularly those in Tasmania…
This raises different questions for different people. For many Australians there is just a “So what?” Others ask the harder question “Why do these things happen?” or the more cynical one “Who can we blame?” These are valid questions but I don’t have all the answers. I can’t tell you why God allows these things to happen or why some properties are miraculously saved while others go up in smoke. Yes, bad things do happen to good people! However, I still believe that God is in control, and that no matter how deep your pain or how great your loss he cares!
I do not consider myself a prophet but I can predict that 2013 will continue to bring painful experiences to many people, there will be both man-made and natural disasters, bringing death, suffering, loss of possessions and livelihood. Your challenges may come through family or work difficulties, death or divorce. Each of those experiences has the capacity to either make us or break us. The key is not what happens to us but how we respond.
What is your response to the problems you are facing? My response this week is three fold:
* I will be thankful for what I have – a job, a house, plenty to eat and drink!
* I will continue to be proactive – keep my house and yard fire safe!
* I will pray – for those who are struggling and seek to help as I can!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley