The Word on the Week

Typhoon Haiyan

The main news story this week has been the unfolding of the devastation created by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Coming only four weeks after a 7.2 earthquake hit the central region this typhoon has been described as one of the most powerful storms in history. It levelled the city of Tacloban and latest reports from the region reckon that 2 million are homeless.

The storm surge which accompanied the typhoon sent a wall of water 4 metres high across the islands. The power of this mini-tsunami was illustrated by pictures on our TV’s of a large ship thrown up onto the land.

There is a tendency to blame climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of these storms but conclusive evidence has eluded the scientists.

One thing is certain and that is the poor suffer disproportionally. Their infrastructure is flimsy and cannot withstand the onslaught of strong winds or earthquakes.

This is the anniversary of hurricane Sandy which made landfall in New Jersey last year causing considerable damage along the Eastern seaboard of the US. On its way there it trashed the island of Haiti causing much worse damage per capita and handicapped by poverty, it is still suffering the consequences.

No disaster would be complete without its conspiracy theory. In this case it’s the US space command “weaponising the weather”! Allegedly they send micro wave pulses over an area and stir up a storm! Why they should bother when nature is perfectly capable of doing it on her own is hard to imagine.

Winds, waves and storms feature in Scripture. They are part of a fallen world. On specific occasions the elements have been seen to respond to God’s bidding and Jesus, as the creator, demonstrated power over his creation (St Matthew chapter 8 verses 26/7).

Indeed Jesus plainly forecast an increase in physical phenomena in the end times and St Paul wrote about creation groaning in birth pains waiting for the completion of the work of redemption (Romans chapter 8 verses 19/25).

Food, medicine and burying the dead may be the most urgent requirements in the Philippines right now and we should assist financially as the Lord enables us, but there is pressing necessity for each of us to get right with God before our personal typhoon strikes the frail body we live in. For that we need to take up this offer, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (St John chapter 3 verses 16/7)

And that salvation is best accepted by trusting Him when the weather is fine before the storms of life strike.