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Shaken and stirred into action; a reflection on earthquakes and natural disasters

March 11, 2011 No Comment

by Ian Adnams

Rescue teams work on houses shattered by an earthquake in northern Japan. (AP photo)

This morning we awoke to news of yet another natural disaster, this time in Japan. An earthquake, the largest ever recorded in the country, not only terrified and took the lives of many, but the subsequent tsunami has brought further death and devastation.

Our prayers rise to God for those in Japan who are suffering loss and feeling physical and emotional aftershocks that will continue for quite some time.

Around the world people are already asking:”How can a loving God let this happen?” (It’s interesting that for most of life people ignore God, but when something disastrous happens He gets the blame!) First, we have to realize that God is God. We can’t understand Him because He exists in eternity, a concept our minds can never grasp. AS the Bible notes, His ways are not our ways.

Second, we live in a finite, fallen world. Since Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden our physical world exists in a state of decay and chaos. This reflects the spiritual disconnection with God all humankind suffers because of sin. God’s love in Jesus Christ repairs that spiritual relationship, but nothing we do can ever bring the world back to its perfect state. Therefore, we will suffer the consequences of Adam’s fall in nature’s destructive activity.

Third, these natural disasters provide the people of God the opportunity to give witness to the hope which is within them through faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called by God to serve our neighbour. We love because God first loved us and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take on our sin and die our death. Touched by this eternal love, we then love and serve others. We can’t go to Japan and sift through rubble looking for survivors, but we can pray for those who do. We can also pray for the small Christian community living in this predominantly non-religious society. While no doubt some are also suffering, there will be others who will mobilize to support and bring the comfort to those who are suffering.

So why does God “allow” this things to happen? Think of the discussion Jesus and the religious leaders had after the Lord healed a blind man. They demanded to know who was responsible for the man’s blindness. Had he sinned or had his parents sinned causing such a handicap by their sin? Jesus responded that neither was responsible for the man’s blindness. He was born that way so that Jesus could heal him and thereby bring glory to God.

Our natural world exists in a state of sin and destruction. Natural disasters and personal disasters are part of life and for we whose trust is in Jesus Christ, they are opportunities to bring glory to God and share His present and eternal love generously.

Ian Adnams is editor of www.canadianlutheran.ca and director of communications for Lutheran Church–Canada

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