When Bad Fires Happen to Good People


“What did I do to deserve this?” Kiat Tohsakul, a local TV news program manager, said while looking at several unscathed homes next to his in Rancho Bernardo in northern San Diego.

“I have no idea why we got saved and others didn’t,” said John Becker, who lives less than a quarter mile away, as he arrived at his house to find only a touch of damage to a fence.

(Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Wildfire Lottery, October 24, 2007)

In the wake of this week’s wildfires, which have caused the largest evacuation from a natural disaster in California history, it seems that the questions that we most naturally respond with are loaded with “why?” and “what could we have done to prevent this?” When my husband walked out on me to move in with another woman, I asked myself those same questions. When it feels like a bomb has instantaneously destroyed your innocent life, it’s only natural to wonder why you are getting singled out while others are allowed to peacefully go along their merry way.

I imagine that the half a million people forced to evacuate their homes this week are without an answer just yet for why this has happened to them. Perhaps the reason will unfold for some in the weeks, months, and years to come. Maybe some will never know. There is a reason, though, because the fires were created through the will of the divine. I know, we don’t normally associate bad stuff with the divine, but if you believe like I do that divine energy is all there is, there’s no denying it.

Why would the divine create a disaster that would destroy the homes of thousands? While I certainly don’t profess to know the answer to this question, I do believe that everything that happens is meant to take us to our collective higher good. And I find a lot of peace and hope in this belief. What can be seen through human eyes is very different from spiritual sight. As hard as it may be to fathom this right now, what may seem to us right now as massive physical destruction might also be paving the way for a deeper cleansing and healing of sorts.

My prayers go out to all of those who have been touched by the wildfires, and to those of us whose homes have been saved. May we all find a sense of peace and hope in what we cannot humanly understand.

4 thoughts on “When Bad Fires Happen to Good People

  1. I don’t know, Susan. I would not teach it that way. Fires created through the will of the divine? God would be evil, had He anything to do with it.

    A Course In Miracles teaches that the Divine has nothing to do with this world and did not create it. God did not create a meaningless world. So, how can you say, these fires are created through the will of the divine? Only, if you say, that you are responsible for it, right, but are mistaken in your idea and will. Everything you see is made by you in an attempt to usurp the power of God, which is impossible. You are still as God created you, and what you thought you made is long since over and gone, and was never real in reality. Though you are divine, the will to make this is separate from God. Therefore it could not possibly have real effects.

    But who wants to take that stand? Not so many.


  2. Alban,

    Thank you for sharing your opinion. I appreciate your interpretation and I very much agree with your comment about the world not being meaningless. The point of my article was to invite us to look at how we interpret meaning. A common response to fires is that they are evil, yet there lies the opportunity to ask if there is some deeper reason for the fires that we cannot yet see or understand.

    A Course in Miracles also teaches that we can’t suffer if we don’t judge things. So whenever something tragic happens, there is always a sense of peace to be found through the belief that the divine is good; therefore what is happening must be for our higher good, despite what it looks like on the surface.


  3. Susan,

    I appreciate your honesty. If we view the world as a classroom, there is a lot to learn from every trial. The Course teaches us that we can use our human experience to transcend it. The question is who do we learn with: the ego or the Holy Spirit. At any moment we can chose to make a disaster a lesson or to reinforce the thought system of the ego.

    I was evacuated along with everyone in my neighborhood, but looking through at the fires with the Holy Spirit, I found peace. I saw the challenge as an opportunity to grow.

    All the best to you,


  4. Aileen,

    Thank you for sharing your experience as someone who lived through the recent fires. The way you looked at having to be evacuated from your home is exactly how each one of us is invited to respond to the events of life. And just as you said, this is the way to find peace. I very much appreciate your confirmation that this indeed can happen even in the most intense situations.

    Warm blessings,

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