Near the end of November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan wreaked one of the heaviest damages on the central section of the Philippines. It left more than 7,000 dead or missing with thousands of homes flattened. Almost one year later, another typhoon (Hagupit) lashed the same region a few days ago. According to a Reuters’ news report, this time Typhoon Hagupit took only 27 lives as compared to the more than 7,000 lives destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. What makes the difference between 2013 and 2014?
The simple answer is preparedness. The authorities and the people of Philippines have learned lessons from Haiyan. The authorities had launched a massive evacuation operation ahead of the storm, emptying whole towns and villages in coastal and landslide prone area. The people also did their part like 60 year old Eleanor LLanteta. She decided to follow the advice of her neighbourhood captain and leave her home in Albay Province a few days before Typhoon Hagupit’s arrival. A day after it hit, Albay had yet to record a storm-related death or serious injury, which moves Jukes Nunez, an Albay special operations officer to say, “Disaster preparedness, we want to make it part of daily life, just like brushing your teeth. We are one of the most vulnerable areas in the Philippines.”
We all could learn from the people of Philippines. Before our Lord Jesus went to the cross, He left a serious message for his disciples. In Matthew chapter 24, when asked regarding the sign of His coming and the end of the age, he warned them not to forecast his coming like the weatherman but be always prepared no matter how bad their situations were. He repeated this warning several times in Matthew 24. Just as the Filipinos took extra precautions and made preparedness a daily part of their lives, so we too must do the same.
But how should we be prepared and not be caught off guard? I believe the key lies in the parable of the wise and the wicked servant in Matt. 24:44-51. In preparing his disciples for the end-times, Jesus did not issue any special ‘emergency plan’ or ‘time-table’ of his coming. "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:36). Instead, he said the wise and faithful servant is one who will do his master’s business whether his master is around or not. He is not a time watcher. He will stick to his menial task just like brushing his teeth daily. One the other hand, the wicked servant is lazy and does not make any ‘disasters preparedness.’ He likes to procrastinate. He gives excuses for not doing his master’s work.
Which kind of servant are you? Are you ready for Jesus’ return? Are you a faithful servant doing the will of your Master? If you are, you will hear this commendation: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Matt. 24:45, 46).
Rev. Mark Tay