On this day in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident to date occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear plant near Kiev in Ukraine. The Soviet Union built the Chernobyl plant, which had 400,000-megawatt reactors, in the town of Pripyat. At the time of the explosion, it was one of the largest and oldest nuclear power plants in the world. The explosion and subsequent meltdown of one reactor was a catastrophic event that directly affected hundreds of thousands of people. Still, the Soviet government kept its own people and the rest of the world in the dark about the accident until days later.
The full toll from this disaster is still being tallied, but experts believe that thousands of people died and as many as 70,000 suffered severe poisoning. In addition, a large area of land may not be habitable for as long as 150 years to come. The 18-mile radius around Chernobyl was home to almost 150,000 people who had to be permanently relocated.
The lessons of Chernobyl are many. Let me offer just two.
1. Life is short and uncertain. We, as humans, play this game. It’s called “I am in control.” You aren’t in control. Oh, sure, you control some things, like what you have for dinner and watch on TV tonight. But details such as when your life will end are not in your control. One day, 150,000 people woke up to a normal day. What happened next would be anything but normal.
2. Man lives by the second law of thermodynamics. That’s just a fancy way of saying that things go from order to disorder. The theological way of saying it is, “We make a mess of things.” What happened in Chernobyl happens in the life of every man, woman, and child who doesn’t have Christ at the center of his or her life. What seems to be in order today can fall apart tomorrow.