Our Bible verse for today: “Now the servants and the officials had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold.” John 18:18 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Coal is a gift from God too”
The use of coal as a source of energy is probably one of the most contentious environmental issues being discussed in our day. Coal is commonly thought to be a dirty source of energy that is responsible for a great deal of air pollution, and there is some truth to that argument. Of all the carbon-based fuels used today, coal is probably the most problematic. But does that mean it shouldn’t be used?
There is no reference to mineral coal in the Bible. There never have been coal deposits in that part of the world such as there are in Kentucky or West Virginia. The coal referred to in the Bible was charcoal and it was made by charring wood in a kiln. That process produced a substance that was slow-burning and which could be used for heating and cooking. Mineral coal, as we know it, was formed in the earth in a process similar to that of petroleum. Organic matter is trapped underground and subjected to great heat and pressure for long periods of time, resulting in the black sedimentary substance we know as coal.
Like petroleum, coal was formed in the earth by physical forces overseen by our sovereign God. It is part of His creation and it exists by His divine will. Also like petroleum, coal serves no useful function as long as it remains hidden deep underground. It’s only when it is mined, processed, and used by humans that it becomes functional and useful. God would not have given us coal if He didn’t intend for us to use it.
The question of course, as with all of God’s other resources, is how can we use it in the most responsible manner? There are many good reasons for us to continue using coal. For one thing, it’s an affordable source of energy. For another, the economies of entire communities depend on it. There are environmental concerns with the burning of coal to be sure, but there is also a very real human factor to consider, and we must balance both.
This is where modern technology becomes a blessing. Advances in environmental science have made it possible for coal to be burned in a much cleaner way. “Clean Coal Technology” is a process that removes much of the sulfur and carbon emissions from coal gases and greatly reduces the amount of pollution generated by burning coal.
In another devotional we’ll address the issue of emission controls and efforts to reduce pollution, but the point for today is that coal is a natural resource God has provided to us through His creation. Its only function is to provide a source of energy for us. God gave us this resource and we are free to use it; we simply have to do so in as responsible a manner as possible.