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Church News Volume 6, Issue 2 (February 2005)

Dear friends,

The events of Boxing Day in the Indian Ocean and surrounding coast lines caused devastation to lives around the world. The tsunami caused loss of life on a gigantic scale, but many more were affected in grief around the world. The scale of the disaster soon became apparent and the world community rallied to give money and send aid.

How can we make sense of such suffering and pain on such a huge scale?

Some have blamed God, some the foolishness of people living so close to the coast, the rich tourist exploiting the resources of poor countries.

We live in a beautiful world, the irony of course is that such beauty, of islands and sandy beaches, is created by gigantic movements in the surface of the earth. Usually the movements are slow and changes take place over many hundreds of years. Occasionally, as on Boxing day, the earth moves suddenly and human disasters occur. It's no one's fault though, God's nor ours! If we want to live in the world we do and take our holidays in such beautiful surroundings the price we pay is the chance of such a disaster happening.

Could God have prevented such a thing happening? I'm sure He could, but what kind of world would we then be living in? One where nothing ever changed, nature always predictable, we could never be allowed to take risks.

We live in a world where there is free-will. That free will is brought about by creation being allowed to run its course too. God does not choose to intervene to stop the natural course of events happening, they are all part of His plan of free-will. But He does intervene by lifting spirits to respond to disaster, when ever love is shown in compassion, there is God at work in His world. For God works through people in the world, not directly changing the course of natural events, but changing human events through the hearts and lives of people of goodwill and faith.

Is there not enough suffering and pain in the world through natural events without people inflicting more upon each other in war and terrorism?

It never ceases to amaze at how cruel people can be to one another on the one hand, yet respond quickly to help other people in an emergency.

We have to hope and pray that in the end good will always triumph, evil people will never win their fights through violence and terrorism, and that the lives of those given trying to keep the peace in many parts of the world today will not be in vain!

A friend of mine has just died. I am very sad because George King was someone I respected and loved to talk to, mainly about cricket of course, but he always had something good to say. It is a sad part of the role of a Vicar that after staying in a place for a while, many people you come to know and love depart, some move away, others pass through the gates of death. I have been here in Bansfield Benefice for almost six years. We have lost some good and faithful people to the Kingdom of Heaven. I don't feel resentful that God takes some of our best to serve Him at a higher level. I know they move on to a higher service in the kingdom. I am sad because we are left to pick up the pieces and carry on their work here on earth. Nobody is indispensable, but some shoes are harder to fill and carry on their work. George did an awful lot for the church and village of Stradishall. A big hole is left for us to fill. Are we up for the challenge? Of course we are! Can you rise to the challenge and offer to help? Of course you can!

God knows what he is doing.

He allows the natural world to run its course. Disasters will strike, loved ones will die, but God gives us the strength to carry on, and build upon the past. Take heart. Have hope.

Rev'd Ian M. Finn

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Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011