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Finding the good

August 18, 2015 No Comment

by Thomas Prachar

President Thomas Prachar

President Thomas Prachar

As I write this in mid-July, wildfires are burning across several of our prairie provinces. A year ago, many communities were concerned about flooding or cleaning up the aftermath of an abundance of water. Today, lack of water combined with lightning has sparked wildfires in many northern communities. In our Central District, we thank God that even though many people have been displaced because of the fires—including the members of our congregation in La Ronge, Saskatchewan—no one has lost their life as yet to these fires. Some, however, have lost their homes in more remote locations or small communities, and many more have seen their cabins or small outfitting businesses go up in smoke.

Because of the damage fire can do to lives, nature and buildings, it is usually seen as something bad. And while fires are burning, they can certainly cause life-threatening conditions to those who fight them. Many people who die in fires don’t succumb to the flames but to smoke inhalation. The smoke and haze created by fires can cause breathing problems for those with respiratory issues. I’m told that fighting fires is hot, dirty, exhausting work.

As far as nature is concerned, good results can come from forest fires. Fire can be nature’s way of renewing itself: pine cones pop in the heat, releasing seeds; dead growth is cleared away; habitats for wildlife are improved. Minerals from burning plants are returned to the soil making it more fertile. It was reported in the local news this morning that some farmers in Manitoba were experiencing better than usual crops, especially canola. It seems that combined with early seeding and timely moisture, the smoke and haze from forest fires create a “greenhouse” effect causing warm evenings and warm days, which in turn result in crops growing and maturing faster.

God can use the aftermath of fire to bring about good. Whether it’s a massive forest fire or an accident in your home that burns it and all your belongings to the ground, our God has promised to be by your side. If you lose everything in a fire, you may truly appreciate how precious life is: “If the dog hadn’t awakened us with his barking, the entire family might have died in the fire!” Stuck in an evacuation shelter, you may get better acquainted with people from your community—people you would not normally meet. As material and financial help comes from complete strangers, lasting friendships may be made.

God can use the aftermath of fire to bring about good.

If we are grieving over personal possessions that are lost to fire, our Lord assures us that while those things can be replaced, He is “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:42). In other words, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Whatever dangers or challenges we face in life, we have the Apostle Paul’s example of faith to follow: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:11,19).

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Rev. Thomas Prachar is President of the Central District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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