Fires

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All through the Western states and provinces the fires are raging. The damage is incalculable. Fear, sadness and sorrow have entered so many lives. Fire fighters from all over these nations have made their way to the West to assist in curbing the flames. Fire fighters have died. We see evidence of the scarred plains and hillsides everywhere.

Those of us living in other parts of the land hear the news and see the pictures. We think and ponder, we talk about details…and we go our way. What can we do? Fires… 

We live in a world where disasters are part of the news every day. There have been fires all through history. Some have acquired names. Famous (…infamous?) was the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Whole neighborhoods turned into ashes, skies were darkened by smoke and smog. In 1910, the “Big Burn” in Idaho, Montana, and Washington laid three million acres waste. Many will remember the Oakland Fire Storm of 1991, fanned by the Diablo Winds. It destroyed 3500 homes and left the region with $1.5 billion in damage. The Cloquet Fire in Minnesota of 1918 claimed 500 lives in a single day. 52,000 people were injured and displaced. 50,000 acres were left scorched. TIME reported that during the present season, more than 1,700 (688 hectares) have been destroyed, and almost 700 responders suffered minor injuries. As many as 10 fighters may have died. Costs will amount to $.5 billion.

Fires in the West…

Fires are not the only source of distress and death. We have seen the pictures on the news. Desperate people slipping into angry waves from over-loaded refugee boats. Masses of displayed wanderers seeking better countries where they can raise their children. And the pictures of the masses of nameless sufferers, so many, so young. And we ourselves see suffering going here and there, passing hospitals and jails and prisons. Soon schools will open their doors to students many of whom have come from troubled homes.

In Matthew 24 Jesus tells of situations that will prevail toward the end-times. There will be “great distress” Jesus said. And “you will hear of wars and rumors of war…there will be famines and earth quakes in various places.” And: “…many will betray and hate one another…and many will turn away from the faith…and the love in many hearts will grow cold… 

Are these the end-times? Who will say…? But may we take to these days of uncommon suffering an uncommon amount of compassion, and draw near to the heart of our heavenly Father. For it is in that place that we find the hope and comfort we need for our world. And there that we find the spiritual resources to rebuild that which ashes have claimed.

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What can we do? Pray for the firefighters and stay out their way.