Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

10 February 2009

The Victorian Bushfires

Like many people here in Australia I have been keeping up with the unfolding events of the Victorian bushfires with deep sadness. I haven't actually seen any news footage – we don't watch the news very often in this house but I have made a point to keep the news off our television screen this week in case one of our boys catches a glimpse. I know they would be traumatised. But I have been keeping up with events via radio news and the internet – and every time I hear a news report it seems that this tragedy just gets worse.

As of this evening there are 181 people confirmed dead with more than 50 still missing, the fires have burnt through more than 3000 square kilometres of land, entire towns have been destroyed with 900 homes razed to the ground and fires are still burning with many communities on high alert.

Yesterday the news readers on the radio seemed barely able to read out the news. Their voices were catching and you could tell their hearts were heavy. The content was largely a dreadful catalogue of events.

Today the content changed a little. Still the updates of events but also stories of people offering to help – various groups and agencies around Australia collecting money and supplies, companies offering to transport goods to Victoria free of charge, governments in Australia and abroad offering assistance. And of course the Red Cross has set up an appeal which, as of this evening, has raised $28 000 000. Much more will be raised because Australians dig deep at times like this.

At the local level, my son came home from school today with a note advising us of a free dress day on Thursday (wear civvies to school rather than school uniform for the day for a gold coin donation) to support the bush fire appeal. I am sure that every child will be at school in free dress on Thursday and that more than gold coins will be collected.

Tomorrow the stories on the radio will change again. The updates will be there. The offers of help will be there. And stories of people's personal experiences will be heard. Stories that will be hard to hear but need to be told to help with the healing. And this will continue.

We grieve and we feel helpless. But we can pray. For those of us who are physically remote from the fires and in no danger, let us make good use of our safety to give time over to praying for those so desperately in need – for those grieving the loss of loved ones, homes (and all that was stored away within their walls), livelihoods and community; for those who have escaped and are numb but will soon start to feel again; for those who are at work tirelessly fighting the fires and tending to the injured and grieving; and for those who will work out how to manage this dreadful situation in the short term and the long term. And let us pray that those deeply affected may turn to the deep comfort found in God who gives real hope when all else is lost. Amen.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Like you Meredith, the tv has been off or tuned into Toy Story for the little eye's in the house. Even too sad for big eye's really. Every time I catch a glimpse I start to cry, so sad. I've joined a group of girls on flickr to make some quilts, to help in a little way and G is having an icey pole/gold coin fundraiser at school on Thursday. See you Friday. x