Perhaps we all wonder at one time or another why major disasters occur where large numbers of people are killed or injured or there is large-scale destruction of property. Is the motive force nature or providence? Some may say they are chance events or they result from natural processes. Still others (perhaps a minority these days) may say that they are acts of God.
Of course one cannot say with certainty who is right about why these things happen. I subscribe to the expression: “Everything happens for a reason.” That said, then the big question is: What is the reason?
To say that everything happens for a reason implies that someone or something is behind events that happen in our lives, including major disasters. What value could a major disaster possibly have to humankind? To answer that question we must look at how disasters affect those directly affected and how others not involved react.
Survivors may have lost loved ones and everything they own. They must find a way to cope and start their life all over again. These are major challenges to test one’s inner strength, and for those who believe in God, one’s faith that what happened was somehow in their best interest from the perspective of spiritual development.
For those directly affected, it is a terrifying, traumatic event. They will never forget the anguish that they had to endure, but more importantly, they will never forget the kindness and compassion of those who sought to help them in the aftermath.
For some victims the help they receive is life-changing. Which is to say that they make it a point to be kind and compassionate to others as they go forward with their lives.
But the reasons why disasters happen go much further and beyond just those directly affected. I believe that large-scale major disasters such as the tsunamis in Japan and Indonesia and other events, are intended to have a transformative effect on the psyche of the children of earth.
That is, they are intended to make us reevaluate how we live, our values, and our understanding of the purpose and meaning of life. Put another way, major traumatic events provide us with an opportunity for a spiritual awakening. Sadly, not all will be ready to hear the call, but many others will.
How the psyche of individuals may be affected by disaster will vary. We have seen from news accounts that many people are moved to a deep compassion for those directly affected, and those who can, flood into the area to help any way possible.
But we are all moved with great sorrow and compassion no matter where we are. What most of us do not realize is that the outflow of compassion triggered by the event is an expression of our divine selves that is showing us who we really are; who we are intended to be; and how we should live our lives everyday with or without disasters. I believe these are the things such events are meant to teach us.
But an occasional disaster here and there apparently is not enough for these lessons to take a lasting hold in many of us. A chain of catastrophes should show us that they do not happen at random or by chance; rather, they are intended to get our attention and force us to question why we must endure such horrific events and what we can learn from them.
So, are disasters good or bad? They are both. They bring great sadness, sorrow, and suffering for the loss of life, property, and basic needs. But they also bring to many a spiritual awakening and a new perspective on life and how we are meant to live. These events are intended to remind us that the material world is temporary while the human spirit is able to transcend all earthly circumstances.