One moment you are following your normal weekday routine, then with the next breath life as you know it and all you own is gone. I can’t imagine the shock, pain and grief that so many mothers, grandpa’s, cousins, friends, colleagues, and grandchildren are going through in so many parts of the world as an earthquake, volcano, fire, tsunami, cyclone, flood or tornado rips their lives apart and leaves them with concrete crumbs and splintered dreams.
It seems like every other day there is a new natural disaster on our tv screens. Some of the images I’ve seen in the last ten short weeks that have been 2011 have broken my heart as I’ve watched so many, many people suffering in Australia, New Zealand, Japan. While there’s not much I can do to help, it has made me re evaluate my life.
Many of us spend our lives earning money to buy stuff, to insure that stuff and pay for storage for all that stuff we’ve collected but are too busy paying for to use or appreciate. Yet in one breath it can all become concrete crumbs and splintered dreams.
So when nature strikes and your life shatters around you, or when your life is finally done, what really counts? What is worth spending a life time working on and for?
Having considered this for ten weeks I have come to the conclusion that when all our stuff is stripped away there are only 4 things that remain.
- Who we are – Our character remains when all else is gone. In fact, disaster, natural or otherwise, are the things that bring our character into sharper focus. We can’t hide who we are. The Japanese are a perfect example of this. Despite the horrors that trap them; the hunger, thirst and cold they suffer; the fear and grief bearing down upon them, they quietly, orderly obey directions and wait for assistance. Their character of dignity and respect is wonderful testimony to the world of who the Japanese people are.
- How we’ve spent our lives – What we’ve done in this life can make a difference. Have we been kind and generous to others? Have we been a good friend and loving family member? Is the world a better place because we have lived?
- Our relationships – Will we be missed? How many people will post our photo on search sites? Or will no-one notice that we aren’t there anymore? Our relationships with family and friends are a very important part of life and who we are. They can survive any natural disaster. They can help us persevere and revive.
- Our faith – When everything else in your life disappears in sudden, short seconds, your faith can be your strength and refuge. Or you can realise the place where you put your faith has also disappeared. Natural disasters shake faith too. When Haiti lost over 300,000 people in a few earth-shaking moments many Haitians turned to their faith in God. In the midst of the pitch black of that first night of earth-shaking uncertainty hymns were being sung by many, despite the dire situation engulfing them. Those with faith have a spiritual refuge and hope in times of catastrophe. Those with no faith are left with the hopelessness and helplessness of their concrete crumbs and splintered dreams.
Question: What do you think is the most valuable, lasting part of your life? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
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