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Bible studies

Bible study: Learning from the beginning

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

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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.

  • How much are disasters part of these consequences?

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

  • How does God offer us a way back to the partnership?

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.

  • How can we apply this in terms of leadership and responsibility in our own homes, communities, work, local and national government and in our own lives?

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).

  • How can we be more open to listening to God before starting work on important new plans?

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.

  • How can we use and share what we have in better ways to help others in greater need?

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.

  • What more can you do in spiritual and physical terms to help in your local community?

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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