Editorial: The Day the Earth Moved

On March 11 at 2:46 pm Japanese time, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck Japan. There was the rumble and roar of the temblor causing swaying skyscrapers, then the buckling highways; then came the wave – 30 feet high, lifting cars, trucks, and train cars as toys. Who will ever forget the scene of the wall of water advancing across farms and homes?

Technology enabled footage of the actual event to be seen worldwide. The scenes of devastation and destruction, the images of a grief-stricken and overwhelmed people, and the reality of an almost apocalyptic type tsunami with its destructive force, left most with a profound sense of sorrow.

Scenes such as these cannot help but provoke questions. The atheist, cynic, and skeptic mock at the concept of a God of love Who allows such devastation. But if there were no God at Whom to rail, against whom or what could they direct their blasphemy? The agnostic points to it all as fodder for his uncertainty and neutral stance. If this is a moral world controlled by a moral power, how can these things happen? The fatalist merely shrugs his shoulders, accepting that life has its problems and must be faced with heroic strength. The believer? It is the rare believer to whom the haunting question of “Why?” does not occur.

Why are we seeing such havoc in our world? Why do tsunamis bury hundreds of thousands in Indonesia? Why do earthquakes claim lives without even the courtesy of a “good-bye” to loved ones? Why is our world reeling and drowning under the tears of grieving men and women?

No easy answers suggest themselves. Yes, we live in a broken world – a world broken by sin. We live in a world that is not as God intended it to be.

Maybe, as we see nations shaken, we are to be reminded of a “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Heb 12:28, Newberry). Perhaps, as we see the transient nature of all things material, we are supposed to remember and value that “the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Cor 4:18). As God slowly chips away at our materialism and confidence in the tangible, we should be gradually being weaned away from earth.

Perhaps as well, the message to the unbeliever will be heard and there will, from the lands awash by tsunami waves, be left behind – like the Nile overflowing its banks to leave behind fertile soil in Egypt – fertile soil for the gospel to flourish and bring men into true riches.

Perhaps … Maybe … but we really do not have final answers. But we do have a God in Whom we can trust; we know God is working all things “after the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:11); a God Whose infinite wisdom is paralleled by His love. The God Who spared Nineveh because of His compassion for 120,000 children and the “much cattle,” does not find pleasure in the grief which men endure (Jonah 4:11).