It isn’t pretty when Mother Nature blows her stack!

It isn’t pretty when Mother Nature blows her stack! For over a week now the economy of our little planet has been held hostage by an angry volcano fuming above the frigid plains of Iceland. They call her Eyjafjallajoekull (meaning “island mountain glacier”), and the good news is she hasn’t put on a display like this since 1821. The bad news is that back then she threw her tantrums for thirteen long months!

But there was no air travel back then. While flights have now been “ungrounded” in Europe, the airline industry has calculated that air carriers lost $1.7 billion as a consequence of their decision to keep their passengers and planes out of the wind-blown ash clouds.  But that “better to be safe than sorry” precaution came with a very heavy price tag. Without auto parts shipments, BMW and Nissan auto plants in Germany and Japan were forced to close temporarily. Flower growers in Kenya—which exports to the world 1,000 tons a day of fresh goods—threw away 10 million flowers, mostly roses, with refrigerated storages overflowing. Asparagus and broccoli ended up, not on European tables, but as cattle feed instead. Tourism in Europe dropped. Train travel skyrocketed. Oil prices fell. And then the mountain went still. Almost.

But if she should resume belching her black plumes into the heavens for a prolonged period, Reuters reported that some economists estimate the European GDP could be lowered between 1 and 2 percent. Amazing, isn’t it, how a faraway island volcano can impact an entire globe?

Just another cycle . . . or just another reminder? After all, you could hardly expect Mother Nature to keep still as this civilization approaches the day of reckoning, could you? Seismologists in Southern California “cannot fully explain” why already this year that region has experienced 70 quakes greater than 4.0 magnitude, when there were only 30 in all of 2009 and 29 in 2008.What’s going on? No—who’s coming back?

The confidence implied in that second question is captured in the hymn of the psalmist: “God is our harbour and our strength, a very present help in trouble. For this cause we will have no fear, even though the earth is changed, and though the mountains are moved in the heart of the sea;  though its waters are sounding and troubled, and though the mountains are shaking with their violent motion” (Psalm 46:1-3 BBE). Mountains shaking with violent motion in the heart of the sea—sounds like Iceland’s “Island-mountain-glacier,” doesn’t it? But never mind: “The LORD of hosts [the angel armies] is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (v 7 NKJV).

Great news for the students of this university who end another academic cycle. Graduate or returnee, the promise is that “the Lord of Hosts” or “the King of Angels” is with you. And who better to be with you, when nature trembles, the economy tumbles? Who better to open  a closed job market than the God whose angel still guards and guides you? No wonder Psalm 46 can be your hymn, too. “For this cause we will have no fear.”