Facing the Possibility of Disaster With Open Palms | Sojourners

Facing the Possibility of Disaster With Open Palms

The sort of preparedness that money and stockpiles can’t buy.
The illustration shows lots of diverse hands reaching out to touch a globe in the middle.
Dusan Stankovic / iStock

ALONG INTERSTATE 10 in southeast Texas, a billboard showcases a wrecked house, presumably from a hurricane, and the words, “The Next Disaster Is Coming. Are You Ready?” I spent a month this summer driving past this sign, enduring a heat dome while
visiting family.

A year of intensifying disasters, from wildfires to extreme heat to flooding, has all of us thinking about how to prepare for the next “big one,” whatever that may be in our area. Ready.gov, which this billboard points to, offers practical tips for everything from attacks in public places to tsunamis: Create a plan, gather supplies, map an escape.

While I want to be ready for a disaster, it’s too easy to go from thatto catastrophizing, from storing supplies to sitting back under the illusion of self-reliance and control. The billionaires who build luxurious bunkers and the preppers all-consumed with societal collapse show us the extremes of disaster preparedness. It can come with spiritual pitfalls, as the Parable of the Rich Fool illustrates.

In the parable, found in Luke 12:13-21, Jesus warns about relying on lots of stuff for a false sense of security. The rich man stored his surplus grain in huge barns and then sat back to enjoy life, but his life was taken from him that very night. All his efforts couldn’t keep him from harm. Jesus concludes, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

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The cover shows an illustration of the manger scene, with everyone asleep. including the animals
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