On the way home from work today I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR when a story came on about the island nation of Kiribati. Kiribati is a nation consisting of a string of islands in the Pacific Ocean that, due to climate change, is sinking and may be rendered uninhabitable within the next century. This particular story focused on 20-year-old Tiibea Baure who is taking part in a program that seeks to relocate citizens of Kiribati. Baure is now living in Australia where she studies nursing. She wants to do well and get a job so she can bring her parents over to Australia with her. The problem with that, though, is that her parents don’t want to leave because they don’t believe climate change is real. This particular quote from Tiibea’s mother caught my attention:
“I don’t believe, because it’s something beyond me. It’s something beyond my knowledge, and it’s beyond my capacity to understand it. We just believe that God will look after us, and he will do his own way to save us.”
This reminded me, a bit, of an old story I once heard from comedian Jerry Crowder about a man who’s house is being encroached upon by flood waters. The man is sitting on the porch with the water up to his feet when a boat pulls up offering to save him. The man simply responds, “Go on ahead. God’s gonna take care of me.” Later on when the water is up to the man’s knees the boat comes back. Again the man responds, “Don’t worry, God’s gonna take care of me.” Finally, when the water is covering the house and the man is perched on his chimney a helicopter comes and a rescue worker throws down a rope saying, “Sir, grab a hold of the rope. This is your last chance.” Once more the man responds, “Go on, God’s gonna take care of me.” Well, the man drowned and when he got to Heaven he told God, “I’m disappointed in you. You said you were going to take care of me.” God then looks at the man and says, “Ya dummy. I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”
In a way I envy faith like that. Especially since my own can seem so weak and doubtful at times. At the same time, though, I wonder if such sentiments of faith can cross over from hope into foolishness. To be sure, I believe that God takes care of us and that worrying is an utterly pointless and counter productive endeavor. At the same time, though, I believe that God wants us to be pragmatic. We are children of God but that doesn’t mean that he’s going to do everything for us. Much of the time we have to simply dig in and solve our own (and each other’s) problems. Typically what God does is provide us with the means–a boat, a helicopter, or even a scholarship program. Most of all, though, He provides us with each other and that is how it should be.
We created our own messes of men so the least that should be expected of us is that we help each other work our way out of them. God will always be with us and will even help us out in seen and unseen ways but through it all we’re going to have to keep working if we want to see a better world.
Of course we could all just sit around until we get to Heaven but that sounds kind of boring to me.