This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reflections on the Superstorm

We in the east coast of the US have just gotten through what has now been labeled superstorm Sandy. The storm, which was 800 miles across (about 1300 km) caused a massive amount of devastation and has taken at least 38 lives in the US and another 69 before it got here. In Connecticut alone, which was only on the periphery of the storm, over 600,000 are without power. During the storm, Manhattan was shut down, and today lower Manhattan is still without power. The subways are flooded, and they estimate it will take four days to pump it out. New Jersey, my home state, was hit especially hard, with 2.4 million people without power and houses lifted from their foundations and deposited on highways. In West Virginia, they had 1-2 feet of snow, and in upstate New York 3 feet.

For those of you not in the US, the superstorm came about because a hurricane merged with a nor’easter (a major storm in the north Atlantic with winds coming from a northeasterly direction) and cold air pulled down from the arctic by the jet stream. It’s pretty much the same set of conditions that created the “perfect storm” of book and movie fame.

The storm was a stark reminder of the power of wind and wave, and the awesome force of nature that dwarfs our abilities to preserve our comfort, our possessions, and even at times our lives. And yet the storm had little to no effect in other parts of the country other than gumming up the air traffic system and closing financial markets. It had even less effect on other countries outside of the Caribbean.

If you pull back and look at this from the perspective of the solar system, there are longstanding storms on Jupiter that are many times larger than our entire planet. What kind of power is at work there? Solar storms are even bigger. And our solar system is a minuscule part of the galaxy, which is one of hundreds of billions in the universe.

And what of the God who created the universe, the one who set the planets spinning and the galaxies wheeling in their cosmic dance? What kind of power does He wield?

From a cosmic perspective, earth is less than a speck, and even on an earthly perspective, this superstorm leaves most of the world unaffected. Our lives and our concerns mean a lot to us, but they are less than a breath to the universe.

Except that isn’t how God sees it.

Maybe because we are so insignificant, God places special value on us, gives us special responsibilities in the world, and has forever ennobled humanity by His own incarnation. And so we matter profoundly to God, whose opinion is the only one that matters.

The superstorm should put our lives and our over-inflated sense of power and importance into perspective. It should remind us of how small, weak, and insignificant we are in ourselves, how illusory is our control of nature, and how our powers fade to insignificance in light of the forces of nature and of the cosmos. But it should also make us think of the amazing grace of God, who has placed inestimable value on us. It should remind us of the fact that the power that created the universe is present for us and is working on our behalf. It should also make us realize the wonder of His love and of His calling to us to carry out His purposes in the world. And that should move us to humility, gratitude, and worship.