Monday, September 11, 2006

Being prepared for emergencies - Part I

First, let me say that I do not believe God wants us to live in the kind of fear that surrounded the supposed "Y2K" crisis. Phil. 4:4-8, Matthew 6:33:-34, and Luke 21:9 are just a few of the many verses in the Bible that teach us not to freak out about current or potential circumstances, but to trust in the Almightly Lord's loving care.
Nor, do I believe that we are to hoard. Luke 12:17-19 warns us of the dangers of greedily storing up things for ourselves and, yet, not being rich towards God.
In fact, there are times, for the sake of the gospel, when we may be called to give back to God every possession he has given us. Jesus commended the poor widow for putting everything she had into the temple offering, and he commanded the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and follow him. I have known familes who have sold everything except what could be packed into one suitcase per family member so that they could become missionaries in other countries. God has blessed every family I have known who have made financial sacrifices such as this or in other ways for the Lord.
On the other hand, many verses in Proverbs warn us not to be lazy, but to work and to plan for the future. Proverbs 21:20 says the foolish person devours everything he has the moment he gets it, but in the house of the wise, there are stores of food and oil. The lowly ant is held up in Proverbs 6:6-9 as an example for the sluggard to copy, for it gathers its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
The Proverbs 31 woman is a great example of being prepared. She makes warm, brightly colored clothing ahead of time, so that her family will have something to wear when the cold cames.
As part of providing for a family, a couple may decide that it's wise to keep some extra stores of food, water, medicine, etc., on hand. These supplies can be used 1) for unexpected company 2) to share with others in time of need (I read about a woman whose family sent their entire stock of emergency prepardness items to New Orleans flood victims.) 3) to take care of your own family members during an emergency. (One family I read about lived on their emergency stock for many months while the father was out of work) 4) to buy something at a lower cost now that will be more expensive later (This is apropos in times of high inflation) and 5) to have some replacements on hand in case you can't get out to the store when you run out of something.
Each family should decide whether or not to build an emergency store. If you do decide to create one, your emergency kit could be very small -- a flashlight, some batteries, a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a few bandaids. Or, it could be larger -- enough food, water, and medical supplies to keep a family running for six months.
When considering what to have on hand, here are a few questions to ask: Do we have a family member with special medical needs? For example, does this family member need extra medicine for a condition such as heart problems, diabetes, or asthma? Do we live in a place that is subject to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, or floods? Are we near to or very far from a shopping area? Is it more economical for us to buy things ahead, or would we end up wasting extra supplies? Would we like to store an emergency medical kit, flares, and a blanket in our automobile?
In the past five years, we here in the U.S. have seen that we are vulnerable to things like terrorist attacks and devastating hurricanes. I have also heard reports saying that the medical community would like to the public to be prepared for a possible flu pandemic, such as the one that hit the world in 1919.
If a pandemic were to happen, many medical personnel might become ill, hampering the work of hospitals and clinics. With hospitals and doctor's offices on overload, we might need to treat all but the most severe flu cases at home.
Moreover, medical personnel and their families would receive the first supplies of medicines and vaccines that could be produced to fight a pandemic flu strain. Then, the public would receive what was left in order of need -- the elderly, heart patients, asthmatics, the very young, etc. You might not think it's fair to treat medical personnel and their families first. Remember, however, that in a pandemic, patients would overcrowd hospitals, clinics, and doctor's offices. All across the nation, medical workers would be asked to serve round the clock for days, perhaps weeks, on end in order to meet the needs of the ill. We could not afford to lose these medical servants to illness. Nor, could doctors and nurses function effectively if they feared they might take flu germs home to their families. Since they would be our first line of defense in the fight against a deadly transmutation of the flu bug, medical personnel would receive the first line of support.
Many farmers and workers in the food and pharmaceutical industries might become ill. So, too, would the people who transport products to the stores.. This would mean that shops could not replenish their stock. Scores of panicking customers would empty store shelves of all the remaining food stores, pain relievers and fever reducers, drinks, natural medicines, prescription medicines, and over the counter medicines in a particular community.
Even if stores and pharmacies were able to remain stocked, the public might be asked to stay home in order to stop the flow of contagion. All things considered, we might not be able to purchase what we need in such an emergency. We might be forced to make do with what is already in our houses.
Now, again, we should not let such potential or actual crises cast an anxious shadow over our lives. Psalm 26:1-2 tells us what our attitude should be: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea."
Nor, should we think that we can always keep difficulties away just because we lay in some emergency provisions. Many citizens in the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina probably had set aside emergency stores, only to watch them be destroyed in the torrent.
In short, it's wise to keep supplies on hand. It's even wiser to have some packed in waterproof containers and within easy reach in case a family has to evacuate their home. Learning about emergency prepardness only makes sense. However, we should not put our trust in a store of supplies, but in the Lord who gives us these recources for our benefit.

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