Typhoon Haiyan is dubbed as the strongest typhoon that ever made land fall in all human history. For those who have not experienced it themselves, it may sound exaggerated, but for those who felt and have witnessed the destructive power of typhoon Haiyan, words can never express what happened on the 8th of November 2013.
I was privileged to be part of our Church effort to help our members who were badly affected by the typhoon. As I personally survey the area, I can’t help, but wonder, where God is all in these. There are many people who died and those who survived will have to deal with how to continue surviving as they rebuild themselves from the rubble of disaster. Thankfully, though the properties of our brethren were damaged, none of them lost their lives. They are still protected by the strong hands of God.
While there are many things that I want to share regarding my experience in Leyte, I want to focus on relaying to you the lessons I learned from this fatal calamity.
Lesson number 1: Money is not everything
In times of disaster, money will not ultimately save you. Sure enough, you can use your money to prepare yourself physically of what may come, but what can money do for you when you cannot even buy something to fill your grumbling stomach? Rich or poor, everyone’s house and property were destroyed by the strong typhoon. No one can escape the fact that the typhoon plays no favoritism. When you are in its way, prepare to feel its full wrath.
Lesson number 2: No one can beat the heart of a volunteer
In times of calamity, we are being defined as an individual and as a nation. Every time calamities strike, volunteers soon will rise. I say that the heart of a volunteer is the strongest force during the calamity because they are not motivated by selfish ambition or gain, but they are motivated by the passion and will to help other people. Yes, this typhoon is strong, but not strong enough to put out the flame of compassion within our hearts.
Lesson number 3: Calamities will either break you or make you
We have witnessed what happens to people who are driven by self-preservation. There is no doubt in my mind that the people of Tacloban City are amazingly friendly, hospitable, kind, and law-abiding citizens. But after the typhoon, we have seen the breakdown of law and order within the area. Looting has been a common word. It is understandable to see people ransack malls and stores to get some food, but to think that they will also steal flat screen TV, smartphones, washing machines, and other appliances is truly a manifestation of the rottenness of our human nature.
What media failed to mentioned is the brave souls who took their ground to remain hungry and keep their dignity. They would rather suffer rather than give up their resolve to live up according to God’s standards. These people have seen the calamity as a perfect opportunity for them to further forge their character of steel and mold it accordingly to please God rather themselves.
Lesson number 4: All physical things are temporary
Human endeavor are crushed by calamities such as the super typhoon Haiyan. When all things are said and done, what remains will be our character. Physical things – our house, car, appliances, gadgets, properties – will mean nothing when the fabric of human civilization is rend and torn apart. Thus, it behooves us to reconsider our priorities and invest on things that really matter.
Lesson number 5: God is accomplishing a greater purpose
Why would God allow such tragedy to happen? After all, He is almighty and stopping such strong typhoon is as easy as breathing for Him. While we may not fully know the answer, we can be sure that everything happens for a purpose. It is imperative that we all realize that this world is not God’s world. The ruler of this world is Satan and time will come that God will finally step in to rescue this dying world from the evil clutches of Satan.
As of now, God is working His purpose to call people into His Church. He wants us to realize that we need to develop godly character first before He can entrust to us eternal life. The challenges we face are the instruments for us to develop tried-and-tested character worthy of salvation. Sometimes, God puts more importance on our character development rather than our own comfort.
We can still have the full assurance that God is in full control and He will never let us be tried beyond our limitation. I Cor 10:13 says;
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Sometimes, the only way of escape is to be able to bear the trial. With God’s help, we will come out triumphant and victorious.
The scenes I witnessed through the media and my personal experience during our relief operation are living testimonies of how powerful natural calamities can be. It is also a living testimony of how strong people are when they are truly united and driven to the same goal.
Many people prayed that day if possible the typhoon will change its direction. Those prayers are unanswered. However, we can be confident that through God’s infinite wisdom, He has something better for us. We may lose our lives and properties, but we should never lose our faith in God. Through many tribulations, we will be able to develop our character and put our life into proper perspective. Trials and calamities like this serve as a wake up call to everyone.
May we all wake up and make the commitment to live according to God’s way of life and be counted worthy to escape the great tribulation that will come upon this earth!