Smoky Air Can Come From Forest Fires Burning Far Away
“For the third year in a row you are belly-aching about forest fires in your province,” Ed grumbled at me yesterday. My old neighbor in Saskatchewan has a limited supply of compassion for me since we moved to, B.C., a province full of forests and mountains. “If you are not talking about summer forest fires, it is the unrelenting rain. You know I hate whining and complaining except if I’m doing it,” he said. He wanted me to change the subject which I was more than ready to do.
There is no getting away from the truth that smoke chokes us when we breathe it in. When our plane touched down in Calgary last week, folks at the airport were complaining about the smoke from our forest fires in BC blanketing the city there. If our smoke floats to Saskatchewan, I am ready to tell Ed that we have been sucking in poor quality air for weeks now. Our province has at 600 forest fires burning presently with no rain in sight, so our smoke may reach from ocean to ocean at the rate we are going.
Our summer fire season causes the evacuation of people from their homes and the loss of property and possessions. How difficult to remain positive while living in an evacuation center not knowing if you will have a house to return to after the fire. Forest fires show how little control we have when it comes to them or any fire. Floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions also wipe homes and lives away without pity for those affected.
Sadly, we may be thankful when others face forest fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and not ourselves. Everyone has thought that they were glad a disaster did not happen to them or happen around here. Life is like a game of tag, and it is okay if someone else is, it, not us. We do not like the idea that things may happen that we cannot control or change. We do not want to lose what we have and need to start over. It is hard to face the truth that no one escapes suffering and tragedy. It only seems that way.
People are suffering around us through pain, illness, abuse, broken relationships, injuries, betrayal, crime and death. The suffering caused by forest fires and floods makes the news, but much pain and tragedy are experienced privately. God is not the creator of evil and suffering, and Jesus, the Son of God, suffered both, of them on earth. God sent Jesus to bring good out of evil, suffering, and death. God’s answer to suffering and tragedy is God becoming a man. Jesus, both God, and man, suffered and died for sinners. Alive from the dead, he invites us to turn to him in our trouble.
Peter Kreeft says, “Are we broken? Jesus was broken, like bread, for us. Do we cry out that we can’t take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did someone betray us? He was sold out. He too loved and was rejected.”
Jesus says to us, “Have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart (be courageous)! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)