Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney, 6 March 2001


The last three occasions I’ve brought a Thought for the Day I’ve found myself dealing with tragedy and disaster.  I hoped that I’d be able to bring something more cheerful today, but a glance down the news just seems to bring more of the same.  The Portuguese bridge disaster, the school shooting in America, floods in Mozambique, the terrorist bomb explosion outside the BBC Television Centre in London, and of course the continuing distress about Foot and Mouth Disease fill the news programmes.  And this is hot on the heels of the Gujarat earthquake, and a continual stream of murders, and political violence in all quarters of the world.


It’s almost as if the whole nation – perhaps even the whole world – is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.  You know, the depression and despair some people experience through the dark days of Winter, only relieved by the bright sunlight of Summer.  We seem to be caught in a never-ending cycle of gloom, of tragedy, of disaster. 


And we feel powerless to act in the face of all these things.  But have you heard about the Tag Rudder?  The very biggest ships – cruise liners and oil tankers - have massive rudders, some ten storeys high, to turn them.  But even their enormously powerful motors are not enough to do the job.  So they have a tag rudder - a small rudder - attached.  The tiny tag rudder is turned.  This causes the main rudder to move, turning the ship onto a new course.  It is the initial small effort of the tag rudder which ultimately makes the ship change course.


Now  we can’t generally stop natural disasters.  But we can do something to make things better, after the event.  We can respect the farming community’s request to keep away from the countryside until the Foot and Mouth epidemic is over.  We can continue to give to the disaster relief appeals.  We can get involved in Comic Relief fund-raising in the next couple of weeks.  And we can pray about these things, and ask God’s help in overcoming the consequences of these terrible calamities.  Because God is not a remote force “out there”, but is One who came to earth and lived among us, experiencing life, including its down sides of calamity and disaster - just like we do.


Your actions and your prayers might seem small, but they can have a disproportionate effect for the good. But you have to make that first effort.


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