Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2011
Scripture: 2 Samuel 13; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12-14; Luke 19:41-44; John 16:20-24.
The year 2010 has been called “the year the earth struck back.” It struck back with natural disasters that included earthquakes, floods, super typhoons, heat waves, droughts, blizzards, landslides and volcanoes.1 It’s also being called “the deadliest year in more than a generation,” since these disasters have taken the lives of more that a quarter of a million people—a startling number considering that it is higher than the deaths from all combined terrorist attacks in the last 40 years.
FEMA responded to a record number of disasters in 2010. Craig Fugate, who heads the agency said, “It just seems like it was back to back, and it came in waves.” As we watched and listened to the news last year, many of us felt the same way. Some of the disasters the world faced were:
- The Haiti earthquake that killed more than 220,000
- The Chile earthquake that was 500 times stronger than Haiti’s. Because it hit a less populated area with better construction, the death toll of 1,000 was much lower. Deadly quakes also hit Turkey, China and Indonesia, making 2010 one of the most active seismic years in decades.
- The heat-and-storm system that brought unbearable heat to Russia, and flooding to 62,000 square miles of Pakistan, killing almost 17,000 people
- The flooding from January through September that affected 59 nations and killed more than 63,000 people
- The Super Typhoon Megi, with its winds exceeding 200 miles per hour that ravaged the Philippines and parts of China
- The “Snowmageddon” blizzards that immobilized mid-Atlantic America and caused record snowfall in Russia and China
- The volcano in Iceland that put a halt to European air traffic for days, interrupting the travel plans of more than seven million people. Other volcanoes in Congo, Guatemala, Ecuador, the Philippines and Indonesia sent people literally running for their lives.
- The July hailstorm in South Dakota that was declared a disaster with its nearly two-pound, eight-inch stones
- And the record-breaking number of major disasters in the U.S. declared by FEMA: 79. An average year has 34.
Think of the ramifications of all these tragedies: the loss of life…the loss of homes…the loss of land…the loss of jobs…the loss of food…the loss of transportation…the loss of memories...and the loss of hope. The one word that these tragedies have in common, regardless of which country, is "loss". And yet the one word that we can all share, is "hope".
This week’s memory text talks about the seemingly unfairness of life on this earth. We may feel that we “weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” And that just doesn’t seem fair. But don’t stop reading there—because next comes a promise: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” Jesus promises in John 16:22 that someday, He will return to earth and take us to our New Home where nothing will be able to take away our joy.
What a great promise to begin the New Year! Regardless of what we may face in 2011—and whatever subsequent emotions come—let's remember that this world really isn’t our home. One day Jesus will return. Grief is for a time. Joy will be for an eternity.