How can you make a difference in (and after) times of disasters?

(Thoughts from a chapter from William Girao’s Why Does God Allow Disasters?)

Sadly, no one is surprised anymore when disasters like typhoons, floods, and earthquakes badly affect the Philippines. It is also very easy to be cynical, critical and feel hopeless, even when we are not directly affected. But we can say and do so much more. As Pastor Girao says, “…instead of bitterly complaining, continually criticizing, and severely condemning everyone and everything about our government and people, let us try some doable things to help improve our tormented land.”

“Let us live lives of consistent and personal integrity.”

It may be a cliche already, but really, change begins with ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a major thing. It can start with small things like not jaywalking, returning things that aren’t yours, using your office resources properly to bigger things like not accepting or giving bribes, not stealing from your parents or your company. If every single person started living lives of integrity, eventually, graft and corruption will die a painful death.

“Let us be directly involved with our communities.”

It’s easy to talk and complain on social media, but actually being involved with doing something with and for your community is a different thing. It requires time, effort, and sometimes money. Stop being just “keyboard activists” and go out there and actually do something.

“Let us give birth to and help nurture the new Filipino.”

Transforming this current generation may be too late already. Those who are not yet married or who are just about to start families must make a conscious effort to raise God-fearing children and entrench in them “genuine nationalism” and “true patriotism.” But this also involves transforming yourself to set an example of what it is to be a “new Filipino.”

“Let us do something to help improve the environment and restore ecological balance.”

There are so many things you can do, big and small, to do your part in helping to take care of our environment. Use less plastic. Plant trees. Recycle. Minimize car use. Boycott products that are harmful to the earth. Dispose of your waste properly. Remember, God entrusted this planet to us and how we treat it reflects on good (or bad) stewardship as well.

“Let us take every opportunity to teach the Word of God.”

Pastor Girao emphasizes, “There is nothing that transforms a nation for good better than the faithful teaching and the powerful proclamation of the Word of God.” Again, do your part, using the strengths and talents that the Lord has given you and that which you’ve nurtured or practiced.

“Let us identify with and share in the suffering of our people.”

Be aware of the situation of our country and our people; not just your immediate environment, but especially those that are outside of your sphere of experience. Weep with those that are afflicted. Be angry with those who are causing this affliction. Comfort those who are suffering. Take action when you can and when appropriate.

“Let us faithfully intercede for our people in prayer.”

If you really love our country and our people, you will not forget to intercede, not just in churches or in communal prayer, but even more so in our personal, private and secret prayer lives.

We do all of these things in love and in hope. Pastor Girao reminds us, “The temporal good we do, however, seemingly insignificant or puny, has eternal significance.”

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Several disasters have recently battered the Philippines. For those who have been directly hit, what is your response? A confused "Why"? An angry "I don't deserve this"? Or a resigned "I am being punished"?

For those who have not been directly affected, is it life as usual for you?

In "Why Does God Allow Disasters?" William B. Girao affirms the sovereignty of God over all things even during calamities. At the same time, he points out man's accountability over what he does to God's creation. He sows that the proper response to disasters is to trust God, as well as to do everything possible to help the victims and save the environment.

This book is available at all OMF Lit and Passages Bookshops and our online store for only P150.