Life is constantly changing. Sometimes the changes happen so slowly that we can’t even notice them until we look back months or even years down the road. But sometimes the entire world shifts around us. Something terrible happens that brings our worst fears to fruition and makes us confront the deepest darkness of human existence. Not only does our world change; we change.

1) Priorities
Things that used to seem so important now seem so trivial. We wonder why we ever even wasted our time thinking of those things… but secretly wish we could return to a time when those fickle thoughts were our biggest worries.

2) Faith
Disaster changes our faith in one of two ways: it can bring us closer to God, or cause us to distance ourselves from Him, and I think that depends largely on the outcome of the disaster. We can thank God for his intervention, his persistent strength, his overwhelming love, or we can question Him. We ask “What kind of a God would let such terrible things occur?” or “Why me?” or simply “Why?”

3) Finances
Finances are definitely a necessary evil. Medical disasters or natural disasters incur almost insurmountable costs, especially at a time when the last thing we should be thinking about is money.

4) Relationships with others
Hard times can bring us together or make us withdraw into ourselves. Big family fights? Bound to happen. Stronger bonds formed? Definitely. Our relationships are built by standing by each other day by day and learning who’s going to be there and who’s not. We learn who are our true friends and who are only there for fair weather.

5) Relationships with ourselves
One word: Regrets. The most important relationship a person can have with a human being is with him/herself, but disasters wreak havoc on mental health. We wonder what we could have done better, who we should have treated more kindly, words we wish we wouldn’t have said, trips we wish we would have made, things we should have prioritized, things we thought were important but weren’t and so on. My gram always said, “We live in our minds.” Disaster can make the mind a scary place to be.

To be honest, disaster changes everything, but our lives are small stories woven within the bigger story of time. Disaster is one part of a story, and the best, most impactful stories deal with disaster. Simba lost his father, Cinderella was a servant to her stepmother, Marlin lost his wife, Nemo had a disability, and Jesus (the greatest story of all) suffered on the cross… but the important thing to remember is that He rose again.

Disasters might happen in a second, but they change us forever… hopefully for the better.