* Some of these may not
have been fatalities.
By David Hall
"What would really happen if The Big One
came?" is a question
most of us have wondered, if not discussed with others. Scientific
research has provided sufficient fuel for worry, fear and an abundance
of media attention, especially from the sci-fi sector. But is it
justified? Is there really much chance that a Big One really
will happen on planet earth - in our life time?
Depending on how one defines a Big One, it could be argued that
we've already had at least ten Big Ones - with each one of
them taking more than a million lives - and all in the last
about 800 years, six of
them in less than the last 100 years. Yet so few people seem to
be aware of these. More than once I've heard a
major national television news report refer to the recent South Asian
tsunami disaster as "the world's worst disaster". As awful as
that disaster was, the truth is there have been quite a few natural
disasters that were even more destructive.
About a hundred thousand or so people die every day around the world.
That's part of the normal life - and death - cycle. Death does more to
cause us to re-evaluate our lives, and ask the big questions, than
anything else. What if that were me? Am I ready to go? What would
happen to...? and similar questions. Normally the closer the
people are to us, the deeper the impact their death has on our lives.
But when something
unusual happens above and beyond the normal, we should stop and
evaluate all the more.
Sometimes people refer to these situations as
disasters, or catastrophes or even "Acts of God". Likely there is a
fair amount of overlap in usage of these terms. What can we learn? Are
there ways to prepare? ...ways that
could lessen the pain and suffering from these kinds of things?
The American Red Cross says that there's a disaster somewhere
in the world on average of every eight minutes. That's a lot of
catastrophe - a lot of lives. Each one significant. Each one full of
potential. Each one precious to God.
Consider the following ten major natural disasters. These were
certainly violent and destructive. And the
results were so devastating and so final to so many
people that one could argue: That was the Big One.
|Europe and beyond
||16th - 18th
sicknesses from Europe
||Famine / Drought
|1876 - 1879
|Famine / Drought
|1918 - 19
|1958 - 61
||Famine / Drought
|Famine / Drought
|Famine / Floods
|Mostly poor tropical
|1 to 5 million
** Estimates of this one range from 35 million to 100 million.
It should be noted that while HIV/AIDS is NOT a "natural
disaster," this largely preventable disease is currently killing about 2 to
3 million lives each year around the world - in spite of all
that's being done.
More notes for most of the above are available at: 66 of the World's
mind that most of these figures
are only rough estimates. As we
have seen recently with the Boxing Day disaster, many people assisting
with major disaster relief
keeping accurate records. They're just too overwhelmed, too tired, and
busy doing what has to be done and still survive themselves, that
keeping detailed records ceases to
be a priority for them. There are also some situations where government
various reasons have tried to hide the true figures (like in China in
1976). Other situations involve more deaths from the "aftermath," so
there are varying reports given by different sources.
it's possible that there COULD be a Big One that is much worse
than any of the above. How an individual and/or a community should
prepare for such a possibility remains open for discussion, reflection
and debate. But to ignore the possibility, in light of the above
and much more available information, may be kin to the
sticks his head in the ground and convinces himself that none of the
problems around matter to him. Both Homeland
Security and Christian
Emergency Network encourage people to be ready. See
at: Be Ready for some practical ways to prepare for The Big One.
you will not be impacted by The
The other side of the coin, for those who know the Lord, is to rest in
the knowledge that "to be absent from the body is to be present with
the Lord" (the Apostle Paul). I long ago concluded that the
safest place in the world to be is: in the centre of God's will -
wherever that may be at any given time. Perhaps that seems simplistic
or like religious jargon to you. Don't right it off so
quickly. Certainly Christians should be at the forefront after
disaster, assisting survivors, revealing by their actions as much of
love of God as they can.
If - as the Bible says - God is concerned not only about the number of
our days but also has so much love and concern for us that He even has
the hairs on our heads numbered, who better to trust with our lives?
you who don't know the Lord, perhaps this is an appropriate time for
you to meet Him. He's not far. In fact the scripture says He's standing
at the door of your life now, knocking, wanting to come in and have
fellowship with you. (Revelation 3:20). Listen carefully! Why not
answer that knock on your heart right now?
How? Just respond to His knock. Invite Him into your life. Tell Him
you need Him. You want to get to know Him. Take your time. Prayer is
not complicated. It's just the formal word we use to describe
communication with God. Say from your heart something like:
God, if you're
there, if you're listening to me, Hello. This is new to me. I'm not
sure what to say. But I think I hear you knocking on my heart. So I
invite you in. Come into my life. I know I've done things and said
things that have been a barrier between us. I'm sorry. I know
I've been living for myself. I want to do what is right. I want to be
what you want me to be. I want to trust you.
I want to live for you. I want to know
you. Help me.
You don't need my words. You can pray from your heart, what's on
your heart. Just be honest.
Let me encourage you to read God's instruction book: the Bible. He's
given so much good advice through that book. BTW - it's still the
number one selling book, year after year after year in the entire
world. No other book has
even come close. The Bible is the main way God speaks to people. It's
like a road map or owner's manual to help us live. God has
also spoken in the past through prophets, through signs, through angels
- but the clearest message to mankind was when He spoke to us through
His Son, Jesus. So I recommend you start reading the Bible
from the New Testament.
And get together with others who know the Lord.
Fellowship with other believers, worshiping God with others, and
listening to the teaching of God's servants are foundational
your spiritual growth
and health. Don't know where to find that?
Ask God to lead you and to open the right doors. He will lead you.
Tips - by Doug Copp
of the World's
Dealing with Death,
God and Fatalism
- by Lynn Green
What to do when your world crashes -
Ten things you can do
David Hall is
a graduate of Vanguard University of Southern California. He has served
many years in Hawaii,
Singapore, Samoa and New Zealand, with Christian ministries such as
YFC, BGEA, Teen Challenge, and Youth
With A Mission.