Responding to the Obvious- Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Disaster

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
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The questions are obvious, real and candid; “How could God let this happen?”  Let’s face it, not a day goes by where we don’t read/hear about something tragic or awful that has happened in the world…or in the lives of loved/close ones, or in our own lives.  The situations may vary- natural disasters, wars, crimes, death/injury, broken marriages/relationships, loss of jobs, addiction…but the questions remain- where is God when this stuff happens?  We’ve all seen the surreal images of the devastation in Japan on CNN, Youtube, and other media outlets.  You couldn’t help but watch in awe and disbelief as video footage captured the damage and destruction that the earthquakes and Tsunami caused.  It was like watching a Hollywood movie with CGI effects as the waters mercilessly swallowed up homes, streets, fields, and anything else that stood in its way along the northeastern coastline.  Billions of dollars of damage, 1300+ deaths reported (and rising), thousands injured, millions displaced and homeless, people everywhere asking; how could this happen…what do we do now?

Unless you’re completely tuned out from what’s going on in the world around us, you’ll have plenty of dinner time conversations as a family asking similar questions as above.  We were watching CNN this afternoon and my kids (7 & 5) were asking how this could happen…why God just didn’t stop it from happening in the first place.  How do we respond as Christians when tragedy and dismay occur in the world?  When people around us, and we ourselves, ask the questions of “why?”…and try to make some kind of ‘sense’ of all this…how do we respond?  To be honest, I always get nervous when disaster happens, because I know there’s some individual or group out there that is going to try to put the ‘sin spin’ on it…that it was some kind of deserved punishment from God, and this is a form of ‘ judgement’.   Do I believe God sometimes brings punishment to people, groups and nations?  Absolutely.  Do I believe things happen for a reason?  Absolutely.  Do I believe sometimes ‘things’…nature, disease, circumstances…happen without any real explanation?  Absolutely!

So before I seem like a watered down politician without any real hard opinion on anything, let me explain.  I believe what Colossians 1:16-17 says; that Jesus Christ has control over all things…both natural and ‘man made.’  There is nothing that goes on without God’s foreknowledge, and nothing that He couldn’t prevent from happening.  Romans 8:18-21 explains that due to the fall of humanity (the garden incident) sin entered into our world and has had effects on everything, including the world we live in, ever since.   The “frustration” and “decay” that are spoken of are the felt consequences of our first parents sin (Adam and Eve), as well as our own.  Natural disasters, turmoil and tragedy, death, disease and suffering are now unfortunately natural consequences of living in a sinful world.  So things that happen in our world do happen for a reason…reasons that don’t always make sense, nor do they often feel fair, but nonetheless, there is a reason for everything.  Nature and life moves along at a unpredicatable pace.

Maybe this brings some level of understanding as to why disasters and tragedy occur, but what about the question of why God allows them to occur?  Why does God allow tsunamis to kill hundreds of thousands of people in South East Asia and Japan?  Why was an earthquake permitted to devastate the nation and people of an already impoverished nation like Haiti?  What about Hurricane Katrina being allowed to destroy thousands of  homes and kill hundreds?  Why is there wide-spread child porn, abduction, cancer, AIDS, wars and other instruments of death and evil?  Events like these shake us to the core, and cause us to pause, reflect and think about eternity, and what’s really important and of value.  We think about the frailty of our lives, and the fact that we could lose everything in 3 minutes, much like what the people of Haiti and Japan have experienced over the past 15 months.  But within the despair and darkness, there is a God who is good, loving and just.  A God who provides miracles amidst these dark seasons, and has a habit of bringing about triumph in the midst of tragedy (Romans 8:28). Through all of this horrific carnage, nations and people will rise up in the name of Christ and bring aid, relief, and hope through a savior who cares, is present and is waiting to meet His people at their greatest hour of need.

So while the events of the past few days in Japan are not easy to make ‘sense’ of, and please let us not try, there is hope in the suffering, and a light still shinning in the darkness.  When parents and children talk about these events, lets remember these things, and to be ever mindful of the provision and grace we live under daily in cozy North America. 

In the meantime, let us be in prayer for the nation and people of Japan, and those who are providing relief work, as well as missionaries who have the greatest relief aid available…the gospel message!  Let’s be in prayer that the hearts and minds of those people who do not know Christ as savior and Lord, will turn their hearts and eyes to Him who holds all peace, hope and the answers to the questions everyone is asking.  Lifeway publishing sent the below video link from Prayercast for pastors to use in praying for the people of Japan.  It wasn’t directly created as a prayer response to the recent earthquake and tsunami, but you’ll see it’s a great resource of prayer direction just the same!  You can also check out the Prayercast weblink for further info and reflection.

  1. Bety Heppner says:

    My daughter could see in the background of the devastation a rainbow. For her is the signature of a compassionate God to grieve very much about his creation choosing not believe, not to follow his loving boundaries, putting God down with their bad choices and decisions. But also a signature of a God that is faithful and patient that he does not want any of us to perish but give us still the chance of repentance, forgiveness of sin and return to love Jesus the only way of Salvation and Life.For as horrible as the circumstances are in this time there is hope in Jesus if we receive him and obey him. Circumstances can be horrible and very painful but nothing is worse than to see the ones that God created with so much love in the wombs of their moms, to reflect His glory, to be lost for rejecting Jesus, the only way, true and life and instead choosing to go away from Jesus for eternity and to go in their way to the endless hell.

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