I do not think that the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that have devastated so much of Japan, resulting in a tragic loss of life and nearly crippling loss of property, is an “act of God”. I don’t even like that phrase. While I do believe that the violence in our world (both human violence and the violence of the planet itself) is due to sin’s effects, I do not believe that the Japanese are being punished for their sins. I don’t believe that God sat on His Throne, Zeus-like, hurling thunderbolts at people, or moved over the waters, Poseidon-like, churning up thirty-foot waves to drown coastlines and tens of thousands of people.
What I do believe is that such sudden and widespread destruction of such a large part of a country should make every one of us stop and realize how fragile our lives are, how fragile our world is. How brief is life! How quickly what we think of as solid and permanent can be shaken to its core and washed away. How completely the body we take for granted can be destroyed and then vanish, leaving not a trace for mourning loved ones left behind.
Let the horrific events in Japan serve to make us ponder the ephemeral nature of the world around us and of the short span of life we lead in it. Let the heart-breaking losses in this world serve to remind men and women everywhere that what matters most in all of our lives no earthquake can shatter, nor even a thirty-foot wall of water wash away. Let us then press onward toward the eternal world that lies beyond this one, mindful of the life we hope to live in it.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and with all of the suffering wherever in the world they may be. May your wounds and your hearts heal. May God give you strength to bear the crushing ordeal you have endured (and are still enduring), and the strength and assistance you need to rebuild your lives and your families, your communities and your nation. Amen.