Typhoon Haiyan's Reminder: Value Everything, Be Attached to Nothing
Two small children in the arms of their father, lying under the rubble lifeless. A desperate mother, almost without tears to shed, asking for help for losing her six children and her husband. Likewise, communities swept away in a manner so apocalyptic one could only see in the movies, cars piled up one after the other and rolled upside down like toys, business establishments looted, out of desperation in seeking food and, leaders, if they are to be called as such, in a chaotic melee.
These are few of the horrifying and heartbreaking scenes that were set right before our very eyes after the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history, hit the central Philippines on November 8, 2013.
The massive devastation that Yolanda (its local name) wreaked havoc on the lives of the people is unthinkable, but definitely not without a purpose. The catastrophe is sending us a very strong message that while we value everything that God is giving us, we should not be attached to it. This includes our material possessions, our loved ones and our money, to mention a few. The Bible says, “Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them, without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away.” (1 Cor 2:31 NLT).
We have seen that time and again, or perhaps, we experienced it ourselves that, in a blink of an eye, the sovereign God can simply take away everything that we possess.
Yes, it is never wrong to be wealthy or to have lots of money, especially when acquired in the right manner. In fact, God has given us talents and faculties to acquire things, to manage them properly and to enjoy them. It just becomes perilous when we develop an unreasonable attachment to these worldly things that we allow them to control our lives, and drift our focus away from the “source” and lose sight on what is truly important.
Even in dealing with our loved ones and others, we have to enjoy and value our relationships with them in such a way that we allow them to choose what they wish to become, listening to what they have to say, providing their needs and sending them unconditional love, even if they behave in ways that are self-defeating.
Be attached to nothing means constantly reminding ourselves that our wealth, our money and our loved ones and friends are not our own but God’s. That if these things will be taken away from us, we will not be sitting in a corner perplexed, shaken and immobilized.
We have to understand that we are not our bank account, that the magnitude of our wealth does not define how successful we are as the world dictates. Because all these things are just ephemeral. They do not last long. Rather, we have to endeavor to do God's works as we strengthen our relationship with Him from glory to glory. This is something that will last through eternity.
Lao Tzu once said, “Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control; this is supreme virtue.” Or in a similar context he said, “Things arise and she lets them come, things disappear and she lets them go. She has but does not possess, acts but does not expect.”
We have to enjoy and value what we have, not focusing on what we do not have, be content and cultivate a thankful heart; then only, we will be able to see God’s will and purpose in our lives.
We must never boast about the material possessions that we have, the enormity of our bank account or on the blissfulness our relationships bring, because we do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is our life? We are a vapor that appears for a while and then vanishes (James 4:14 NIV).
And as Christ’s soldier, we should not let ourselves become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then we cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted us in his army (2Tim 2:4 NLT). Hence, we should set our minds on things above not on things that are on the earth (Col 3:2 NLT). After all, we are just mere passersby in this earth as our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20 NLT).