Wednesday, 10 Feb 2021
Reflection by Joseph Pinkard
How do you prepare and respond when faced with a challenging and unexpected situation?
Noah finds himself in an extreme situation as God explains to him that, in response to the violence caused by the people on earth and their corrupted ways, there is no option but to destroy the earth and its people. We read that Noah is a righteous, faithful and blameless man whom God enters into a covenantal relationship with. God provides Noah with specific instructions on how he should build the ark and who should join him in it to overcome this disaster. Noah is asked to be protector for all the living creatures on the ark.
Despite the extreme nature of God’s punishment on his people, reflecting on this passage I am somewhat reassured by the specific information God provides Noah to prepare for this impending disaster. I am an anxious person who often considers the worst that could happen in a situation and prepares for the possibility of this happening so as not to be caught by surprise. This often results in sleepless nights as the cogs in my mind refuse to slow down. So the level of detail God goes into is comforting in what is disastrous situation.
The reality, though, is that I cannot always know what is coming, and therefore I find myself in situations where I am not as prepared as I would like to be to respond. Volatility and uncertainty have become characteristics of our world and mean that we must all develop resilience in order to overcome challenging and unexpected situations.
I recently had the privilege of speaking to Nelly, who is the National Coordinator of one of CBM’s partners in Vanuatu. Nelly told me how her community prepares for and responds to the annual cyclone season that affects her region. I was challenged by some of the things I heard. I learnt about the local materials that houses are often built out of and how they struggle to withstand the strong winds; the fact that communities will sometimes have no choice but to seek shelter in caves during cyclones; and how phone reception can sometimes be so limited that people are unable to be informed that a disaster is looming.
In spite of these challenging facts, I was also encouraged that the community is doing more and more each year to better prepare and respond to these disasters – to ensure that everyone is included and no one is left behind. Things like making sure everyone has an opportunity to be part of disaster-planning meetings, keeping information of the whereabouts of vulnerable people up to date, and providing early warning systems that use a variety of channels to reach people who experience barriers to communication such as vision impairments.
The kind of specific instructions God gave to Noah are not always available to us, so we need to discern how we as individuals and communities can prepare and respond to difficult situations. Ensuring that everyone is included in both the preparation and response is something that Nelly’s example challenges us to reflect on in our own community.
Joseph Pinkard is the Church & Community Engagement Manager at CBM Australia. He has studied theology and worked as a disability support worker in Melbourne.
Joseph enjoys exploring how churches and Christian communities can be more inclusive of people with disabilities through CBM’s Luke14 initiative.
Today’s invitation is to… prepare a meal for someone in your local community.
Respond as a church this week by… looking through the prayer resources in the Prepared to Hope Church Resource Kit and consider using one during an upcoming church service.
Read more stories and reflections in our Prepared to Hope series.