Disaster preparedness. When you hear this term you probably think about a looming apocolypse or TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It) as portrayed by countless books and movies. Writers and publishers have done a great job of marketing disaster preparedness with end-of-the-world scenarios. I believe in a much more grounded idea of disaster preparedness.
As Christians we have the best plan for the end of the world. Knowing Jesus Christ as our personal Savior prepares us for His coming. If you don’t know Him as your personal Savior, you can find out how you can know here. Disaster preparedness is not about planning for the end of the world, but rather planning for real life situations that you are your family are most likely going to face. (Please note that this post is not going to cover how to survive on an island with only a swiss army knife and a shoestring. You may need to look elsewhere for that kind survival guide.)
The first question that most people ask is, “Why should I create a disaster preparedness plan? I have enough real-world problems without acting like Chicken Little.” This is a valid question especially since in Luke 12:22 we are commanded to “Take no thought or your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.” The same chapter even condemns a rich man for storing up his goods and saying “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” So that leaves us still with the question, “Why should I have a disaster preparedness plan?” or “Is a disaster preparedness plan biblical?”
Let’s remember that disaster preparedness is NOT going to cost a year’s salary, take up your entire basement or require a full-time guard for your “stash.” A proper disaster preparedness plan is about preparing for what makes sense. It is better to be prepared for the challenges you might actually face–harsh weather, power outages, loss of income, or being stranded on the road.1 Remember that a disaster can happen at any time and to anyone. Disaster can range from natural disasters such as a tornado, blizzard, hurricane or flood to more man-made disasters like a power outage, house fire, social unrest or wide spread food and water contamination. Depending on where you live in the world and what the social climate might be, one or two disasters may be more likely than another.
By naming the likely disasters that may touch your family (rather than preparing for an end-of-the-world scenario) you better know what you are preparing for. Dr. Arthur T. Bradley says, “You can’t prepare for everything. Instead, try to draw a line in the sand based on what you see to be the greatest threats to your family. Then target your efforts to mitigate the impact of those threats.”2
We must consider though whether or not a disaster preparedness plan is biblical. Genesis 41 gives us the account of Pharaoh’s dream and Joseph’s interpretation of a coming seven-year famine. Genesis 41:25 tells us that, “God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.” The Lord wanted Pharaoh to prepare for a coming disaster—a wide spread famine. God would ultimately use this famine prepareation to preserve His people. Verse 36 of the same chapter goes on to say “And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine.” Did Joseph balk at the idea of gathering food together because he believed the Lord would preserve His people another way? No. Joseph saw that this was the hand of God leading him to prepare.
In the sixth chapter of Proverbs, the writer commends the ant and tells us to “Go to the ant”(vs. 6) because “having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” The ant understood that a time of leanness was coming and she was making proper preparation. It’s not hoarding, it’s preparing with purpose. Alcorn helps us distinguish between saving and hoarding this way: “Saving is a means of not presuming upon God. Hoarding is a means of replacing God. Saving can avoid presuming upon others to assume responsibility for our future needs. Hoarding is a self-absorbed commitment to independence from others who could help us if we’re in need, just as we can and should help others…When I save, I lay something aside for future need. If I sense God’s leading, I will give it away to meet greater needs. When I hoard, I’m unwilling to part with what I’ve saved to meet other’s’ needs because my possible future needs outweigh their actual present needs…The difference between saving and hoarding isn’t simply the amount but the attitude.”3
The aim of this post is not to get you to put together a disaster preparedness out of fear. As humans, we work better when we are driven out of love—love for the Lord, love for our family, love for our friends and neighbors. In the future we will talk about food storage, emergency medical supplies, and what you need ready should you have to flee at a moment’s notice. Ultimately we understand that “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)
1Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, Dr. Arthur T. Bradley, Loc 140
2Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, Dr. Arthur T. Bradley, Loc 259
3Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Randy Alcorn, Loc 7196