While camping in a state park two weekends ago, we encountered an accident scene in which a huge ash tree had been cut down and fallen on an outhouse, as shown below. (See Tree Accident for details and pictures.)
This past weekend we camped at the same park and revisited the accident scene. The accident had apparently totaled the outhouse, because the remains of the hut had been completely cleared away.
Later in the weekend we visited the site again and saw a substantially rebuilt outhouse.
I talked to three rangers who were rebuilding the outhouse. They told me that they had spent 14 man-days so far on the project with the roof still to be shingled and the toilet to be installed. This involved clearing away the destroyed hut and part of the tree, fabricating a new hut in the shop, and installing it on site. They said they’d wait till spring to cut back the fallen trees.
I sympathized with the ranger who had misfelled the tree, who I think was one of the rebuilders. I could imagine him phoning in to report: “Hey Chief, you won’t believe what happened.”
Another ranger had told me of the boss’ severe displeasure when he heard about the destruction of the brand new outhouse. I could imagine how the miscreant felt, because as a youth I once cut the power cord of a neighbor’s electric mower while mowing his lawn, and I had to go tell him about it.
I thought about how bad the poor ranger must have felt when he saw the tree falling in the wrong direction onto the outhouse. I pondered over why accidents happen, sometimes despite men’s best intentions.
The fundamental reason behind why anything goes wrong is Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). All the trouble in the world flows from that one act of rebellion against Yahweh. As a result we live in a broken, cursed world where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.
Other possible reasons behind catastrophe with examples include:
– Tragedy may be a consequence of individual sin. King David’s first son by Bathsheba died as a result of David’s adultery with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:23)
– Tragedy may be designed to teach a lesson. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was plagued with insanity to teach him to give glory to God (Daniel 4).
– Tragedy may be designed to glorify God. Jesus said a man was born blind in order to showcase the work of God in him (John 9:1-11).
– Tragedy may be designed to prompt repentance. Jesus said this about the fall of the Tower of Siloam (Luke 13:1-5).
– Accidents may be the natural consequences of individual choices, as in this case of the park ranger who ignored safety policies, took shortcuts, and misfelled the tree. (See Tree Accident.)
It’s always worthwhile to think about accidents and catastrophes to see what we can learn from them.
Questions to Ponder
- How do you respond to tragedy? Do you blame others, God, or yourself? Or do you ask God what His lesson for you is?
- Think of a recent accident or catastrophe in which you were involved. How did God use it in your life?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday November 26, 2014 A.D.
And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). And so he went away and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:1-7)