On Sunday when I first heard that there were some 30 fatalities from the Victoria fires, I was shocked. I just didn’t realise that the fires could be that deadly. Now with the death toll over 180 and expected to rise significantly, I thought it was appropriate to post a few thoughts.

Lessons from the fires

1) There are more important things than the global financial crisis.

Last week it was obvious that the most important thing happening was the global financial crisis. This week it’s obvious that the global financial crisis isn’t nearly as important as we thought it was last week.

2) Times of tragedy bring people together.

The outpouring of good wishes and help is good for us. It is healthy for a nation to pull together in the face of hardship. It is tragic when people immediately call on the government to fix the problem.

If you want info on how to help, there is a concise list of organisations at God is My Constant.

3) We are responsible for the lasting consequences of our decisions.

This week many had to make heart-wrenching decisions. People had to weigh the risks with the possible outcomes… homes, livelihoods, and yes, lives were at stake. It pays to be prepared, but when it comes down to it, tough decisions have to be made and outcomes are not guaranteed.

Tragedy merely magnifies what is true of every decision. There are consequences for decisions and we must face them and live with them.

4) People think they know what God is thinking.

It seems inevitable in great tragedy that some religious leader will stand up and claim to know the mind of God on the matter. This time a pastor has made a mockery of Christianity by elevating a dream to the level of divine revelation. If this pastor had more respect for the word of God, he would not claim to know what God simply has not told us.

5) People want someone to blame.

There is no proof of arson. Only suspicion at this stage according to the police. But just the suspicion is enough to raise a noisy clamour for retribution.

Now I agree that any arsonists connected with these fires should be charged with murder and brought to justice (whether or not it is first degree or manslaughter is a debatable issue perhaps). But we just don’t know at this stage.

Still, it seems there is something in man that wants to blame someone. We’d blame God, but that’s a bit rich for a nation like ours. I suppose the great disadvantage of being an atheist is that you can’t blame God when tragedy strikes.

6) When we do not understand, we must trust God.

God has been alive and active in Victoria this week. I can’t explain all the implications of that statement, but I do know that God is who he says he is. And he can be trusted. God is working through this for his glory and for the good of his people.

That’s the lesson of Job in the Old Testament. When we do not understand, we always must trust.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at

One Comment

  1. Robert 12 February, 2009 at 7:19 am - Reply

    great post Jason, very incisive and thought out. I like this quote:-

    Tragedy merely magnifies what is true of every decision. There are consequences for decisions and we must face them and live with them.

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