(This is a devotional written for the Look, The Earth Is Wailing: Lenten Devotional 2020, CedarFund Hong Kong. The Chinese version can be found here)
“Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes — joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. To you, Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.” (Joel 1:15-20)
Joel 1 depicts a disastrous scene: the day of the Lord was near and the locust invasion damaged crops. Some scenes (Joel 1:19-20) even recall our memory of recent tragedies reported in the media. The prophet then reminded His people to fast and repent, “Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people..” (Joel 2:18 )
While I was writing this article, Australia was being ravaged by the worst bushfires seen in decades. The deadly bushfires engulfed countless homes in flames. Years of abnormally high temperature and severe droughts in Australia probably contribute to the main causes of the fires. What climate scientists warned over a decade ago happens today.
Climate change does not only impact Australia, but all over the world though they always lack media attention. For example, flash floods hit Java in Indonesia lately, devastating millions of people. Africa, Central and South America, and South Asia have been afflicted with droughts over the past decade. Meanwhile, the melting polar ice caps have been continuously driving the rise of global sea level, causing gradual salinisation of soils across the Mekong River, the Ganges and the Nile Delta. Farming in these regions becomes more and more difficult, forcing tens of thousands of people to migrate in midst of the resulting dire situation. The UN estimated that there will be hundreds of millions of climate refugees globally in the next 30 years. Today, climate change is an indisputable fact. Such unfortunate results were caused by excessive emission of greenhouse gases in developed industrialised countries in the past two centuries.
Researches from over a decade ago have already reported that as compared to developed countries, the less well off ones often have lower greenhouse gas emission. Yet the latter often suffer much greater impact resulting from climate change.
How perplexing it is when evangelical communities proclaim “this is my Father’s world”, while keeping quiet and deafening about the current global climate crisis. As the prophet said, God’s people have to repent from their silence and indifference, and speak up for justice. “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17 )
- Am I really not related to the problems of climate injustice? Has my lifestyle contributed to any part of the crisis?
- How should I change my lifestyle and speak up for this unjust issue?
Let us pray:
O God! Have mercy on your devastated people! Help me turn away from a high-consumption way of life. Teach me to hold fast your words in heart and guide me all along the path of righteousness.