I was taken aback from the amount of response coming in support of the Fort McMurray fires, here in Alberta Canada, and it becoming a global concern. It has been an amazing thing to see neighbours and people across our province jump to the aid of other people, but also to see people from all around the world both show support in word and action. It is one of those moments that boosts your faith in the human race. But, for all the support surrounding those who had to leave their homes with only the clothe on their backs, we have also seen the ugly rear its head as well. Be it people making it political and using this tragedy as a opportunity to criticize our differing levels of government, people acclaiming that this is a sign of God's wrath upon our province and nation or even those saying this is karmic with global warming and mother nature unleashing her wrath on a oil field city like Fort McMurray.
To be honest, those using this for their political agenda and those calling to for repentance due to God's wrath made me shake my head, but sadly this has become all to common. What took me aback was those using this tragedy as a time to celebrate it as they had a axe to grind for environmental reasons. As though this was some karmic incident, claiming that a forest fire was caused due to climate change and attacked a city that apparently is the main cause of this climate change. I am not going to get into the debate of climate change, the tar sands or even the ridiculous assumption circulating this whole conversation. But, what I found ironic was the same people who would be outraged for blaming God wrath's on a natural disaster had no issue to do the same when it came to climate change. It is the same spirit that claims both these outrageous ideas. Not only that, but even if, for argument sake, these fires were caused by climate change, to celebrate that 80,000 people had to evacuate their city, leaving everything behind, is not only cruel, but missing the point.
I think that it hits a underlying issue at hand. When tragedy hits our lives or we hear of tragedy in the lives of others, we can so easily wish to jump to the question of 'why?'. We can wish to explain the ins and outs of such a tragedy. Why did this happen? Who is to blame? How could it be avoided? Though wrestling with the 'why' isn't inherently wrong, but having our entire focus on it is rarely helpful. At some point we should be asking 'what now?'. Instead of looking for a finger to point, finding a explanation for the event or give a reason behind it all, we should be asking what should we do now? How can we help? Where can we bring hope and healing? The why is a sign of our psyche reacting to a broken world. When tragedy hits, it releases a reaction of shock because it isn't how things should be. When we hurt, it is because our soul feels the brokenness of the cosmos. But should we stay here?
In our own lives we see this as well. A loss of a loved one, we are hurt and used, a loss of a job, a family is torn apart. In these moments it is no wonder we go to the question 'why?'. And we should never feel as though we cannot ask this question. Again, it is a expression of us questioning what is imperfect when we know it isn't the way it should be. But, at some point, when we have exhausted the 'why?' we need to move towards 'what now?'. What is my next step? What is my life going to look like now? How will I grow and be shaped by this? How can I be about the change the world needs? The hope to the hopeless.
When we try and explain the 'why' of things like earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, divorce, hurt, loss, it can only fall short. Or worse we go as far as saying we know the answers and exclaim that those who have suffered somehow deserve what came to them. When people need hope most and a helping hand, we choose instead to kick them while they are down. It detracts from the real work and change that comes from 'what now?'. Our words and actions have power. The question is: do we want to be a people who build up or tear down? Encourage and heal or dismantle? The choice is ours. Our words and actions can bring hope and life or fear and death. What will you pick?
Drake De Long-Farmer
Drake is passionate about seeing people thrive and come alive--to BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVE and BECOME people FULL OF LOVE, FUELLED BY FAITH & ADDICTED TO HOPE. Drake is an engaging speaker, writer and an equipper of leaders. He is a life learner and loves being challenged to grow further. One of his favourite things to do is spend a good amount of time at a good café or coffee shop with a good book or engaging conversation. To be able to share in someone else's journey and experience their story is always a pleasure and an honour. He currently serves as the Editor-In-Chief of boldcupofcoffee.com & the Executive Pastor at Gateway Alliance Church.
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