I find catastrophes to be interesting. Everyone that I know that has been through one, always talks about how sudden they are. One minute, you are walking down the street with the shops open and the sun shining, and then, just moments later, your world has turned upside down – tanks block the streets, earthquakes topple buildings or bombs blow up packed buses. Whatever they are, extreme events always seem to come out of ‘nowhere’. In fact, ‘nowhere’ is such a common place, the English language even has a word for it.
But, is disaster really so sudden?
Of course not. There’s always some kind of warning. Volcanoes always rumble before they explode. Tsunamis are always preceded by big earthquakes. Currency devaluations always follow claims to the contrary by politicians. And, there’s always some poor idiot out there preaching the end of the world before it actually happens. So, why do we always feel like these things are ‘sudden’?
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Well, human psychology is an amazing thing. We have this fantastic ability to believe that nothing is wrong, that everything is okay – when it isn’t. We sing louder to drown out the cries of Jews being carried off to the gas chambers. We ignore the discrepancies in the testimony at the Senate hearings when presidents are assassinated. We overlook a congressman’s support for abortion, because he gives us something that we want. And, we pressure our own daughters to have one, because her baby would disrupt our carefully organized lives.
And, we look past the unfamiliar and latch on to the familiar. Have you ever noticed how long it takes people to notice your new haircut?
Those of you in foreign countries understand this principle. If a native English-speaker sees a sign in both Chinese and English, he or she will always see the English first, no matter how much they understand Chinese. Our minds ALWAYS hold the familiar tight, and avoid the unfamiliar – even if the unfamiliar holds greater benefit to us. This is even more true when the implications are horrifying.
Several years ago, while I was getting ready to write an article on the Arab-Israeli conflict, a packed bus blew up just down the street from my Jerusalem apartment. This wasn’t the first time that a bus had blown up nearby, but it was the first time that I stopped what I was doing and went down to take photographs. Years later, as I was showing someone the pictures, I realized that there had been dead bodies lying in the bus, and I hadn’t seen them. My mind had edited them out – while the camera hadn’t been so lucky.
Is your mind editing out the bad news around you?
Are you looking past the ugliness to latch onto the familiar?
Are the warning signs of impending disaster being drowned out because you, and everyone around you, has decided to sing louder?
Paul spoke of the time that we live in right now. And, he said this in 1st Thessalonians:
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. – 1 Thessalonians 5:3-7
The point is that disaster is coming. You may not be able to see it, because your mind doesn’t want to see it. Your mind may not even be able to grasp the implications of how terrible the future is – and I understand, since I suffer from the same problem. And, you may not be able to see it because this disaster is being really quiet as it creeps up on us. You may even be unable to see this catastrophe because you are holding onto a theory that tells you that nothing bad can happen to you. But, our theories and inability to see will not protect us from what is coming.
That’s why we must open our eyes and read our Bibles. Our media and our pastors are preaching ‘peace and safety’ to us, but destruction is coming. And, when it comes, it will be sudden.
When it happens, it will happen quickly.
If you find a flaw in my reasoning, have a question, or wish to add your own viewpoint, leave a comment. Your input is truly welcome.
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