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Photo: Jim Loring/Tearfund

From: Learning from disaster – Footsteps 56

Advice on how communities can prepare for the unexpected

Learning from the beginning: Genesis

Read Genesis 1:31, 2:15

Disasters and suffering were never part of God’s original plan for us. He created all things and formed a partnership with us. However, this partnership was broken (Genesis 3) and we suffer the consequences.

Read Romans 8:18-25 Today there is suffering – but it is temporary, and will one day give way to something eternally glorious.

Knowing God, the prospect of disaster should not terrify us – we learn here that we are safe in his hands and that this world will one day be transformed into a new world. Until that glorious day, God requires that we act justly, love kindness and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8).

The Bible touches on all aspects of life, and disasters are no exception. One of the best-known accounts is the story of Joseph in Genesis 41 where, through the consequences of famine, the descendants of Abraham settled in Egypt, where they developed into a nation. In this story, God used Joseph to work out his purpose and to be a blessing to others.

Read Genesis 41:16

Joseph started by humbling himself before God: ‘I cannot do it – but God will.’ Because of this attitude, it was possible for God to trust Joseph with a hugely important leadership position, without the fear that he would be corrupted.

Read Genesis 41:25

God speaks to the Pharaoh in a dream, and uses Joseph to explain to him what it means. God uses many ways to speak to us. He reveals his plans to us (Amos 3:7).

Read Genesis 41:57

There was famine in the whole world, yet God had provided one country, Egypt, with the resources to cope. And today, God still provides some people and nations with resources to help others.

Just like Joseph, the impact of our lives should be to make things better for our neighbours – to create rather than destroy, to bless people and not to curse them. Our presence should be good for the local community and economy, so that we will be better prepared for and better able to cope with hazards.

Alan Robinson works at Tearfund in the Latin America and Caribbean team. He was working in Honduras at the time of Hurricane Mitch and helped communities to cope through that disaster. 

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