Recently, there was a forty-acre wildfire in Montana. Fire fighters were surprised when they found the cause of the chaos. A hawk had caught a snake and was carrying it away for dinner. Nothing unusual, until, flying through the air, trying to escape the talons, the snake became entangled in power lines, which electrocuted bird and snake, which caused sparks, which caused the huge fire, which caused lots of firefighters to spur into action. What should have been a normal day turned awry.
This series of events reminds one of chaos theory. Chaos theory purports that, sometimes, even a small change in a deterministic system will have difficult-to-predict outcomes. In part, chaos theory is why weather forecasters display an array of weather models during storms and they pick the most probable outcome.
The figure above is a double-compound pendulum. Despite being a deterministic system, just the slightest change in the initial conditions renders its path nearly unpredictable. Life looks an awful lot like the chaotic graph of the pendulum some days–especially in recent times when looking at natural disaster.
Over the past few days there have been dozens of large-scale wildfires out west and a massive 500-year flood in Texas and Louisiana. In just a few days, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina will encounter the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. Millions of people will be displaced. What are we to make of these natural disasters?
Second-century Church Father, Irenaus, stated that evil is necessary for us to develop. Similarly, the late contemporary philosopher, John Hick, spoke of “soul-making” opportunities in the midst of suffering. As chaotic events surround us, let’s look for opportunities to serve. Chaos happens in differing degrees on a daily basis. Be the blessing. This is what you are built for.
Photo credit: Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_pendulum)