In old classic literature providence was used to describe how God used natural events—however extreme—to demonstrate his power and his care.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
In Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe, his protagonist experiences a shipwreck and twenty-eight (28) years stranded on a deserted island to reveal God’s hand of provision, protection, and ultimately his salvation.
Last week, my husband and I visited Heimaey, Iceland (pictured above). It’s approximately four miles off the south coast of Iceland and the only populated island in the Vestmannaeyjar chain. In January of 1973, at one o’clock in the morning, the five thousand residents of Heimaey were awakened to the eruption of Eldfell—a volcano they didn’t even know existed! They fled with their families to the harbor and the fishing boats that would save their lives. Only one life was lost.
For the following six months, Eldfell continued to expell lava over the half the town and down toward the harbor. The small town depended upon the harbor for their livelihood, so many returned to battle the lava by spraying it with sea water. The harbor was saved. Today over four thousand people live on Heimaey and the fishing industry is thriving.
Although catastrophic in its impact on the lives and homes of those living in Heimaey, the people we spoke to last week told us of the providential ways in which they were saved.
- Bad weather prior to the erruption forced the fishing fleet to be available in the harbor.
- People out walking saw the first signs of the erruption and alerted the town in time to evacuate safely.
- Windows were covered with metal covers which saved homes from catching on fire so many families returned and were able to recover their possessions.
- Men who were considered foolish for thinking they could stop lava by spraying it with seawater were successful in saving their harbor and their livelihoods.
I believe in the goodness and providence of God. I’m convinced that although he allows suffering as a result of our own sin or natural events, his intent is our salvation. His love compells him to act in compassion.
Won’t you run into the open arms of Jesus and find comfort in God’s providential care?
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (NIV)