Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The news has been riveting these few days. A massive sea-quake sent 10-meter waves crashing into north-east Japan. The earth movements caused havoc even in Tokyo. This affected the stability of nuclear reactors raising fear of Chernobyl-like radiation contamination in the surrounding areas. Japan is now reeling from this triple whammy.
As is usual amidst such devastation, our minds turn to God. How can a good and loving God allow such suffering to happen? If God is omnipotent, why did he not stop the tsunami? If he could stop the tsunami and he did not, can he be called a good God? One is not deemed faithless in asking such questions.
The answer is found by turning back to the Garden of Eden. At the dawn of creation, God made everything perfect and created Adam to oversee creation. God however gave Adam a choice – to follow Him by not eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. As we know, Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree signalling their rejection of God.
The result of their disobedience brought sin into the world. We normally connect sin with moral evil such as murder, robbery, lying, etc. However, sin not only affected mankind but God’s creation as well. Just as humans are subject to organ failure, ageing, etc, God’s creation is now subject to tsunamis, plagues, cyclones, etc. It would not be like this if Adam and Eve had not sinned.
Nevertheless, the Bible reminds us sin and evil are temporary because God has an ultimate outcome for a broken mankind and earth. “Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God”, Rom 8:21. We are the sign that this deliverance of creation will come to pass.
However, we are also the sign that God is not helpless in this world. Devastation like this should spur us to share the Gospel urgently with people in our circle of influence. When was the last time we took the trouble to share the Gospel with someone? Are we fervently praying for someone to receive the Gospel? After my mother became a Christian, she prayed for nine years before I received Christ.
We can also respond to disaster with acts of compassion. Perhaps, when communications and transport have stabilised, there might be more relief teams looking for help to get medical and home-rebuilding care to the affected people. If we are suitably qualified, we should consider taking time off to help. Another way would simply be to give financial aid to established organizations sending in aid. In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, millions of people gave millions, perhaps billions, of dollars to provide medical aid and practical aid that enabled boats and homes to be rebuilt. We can also help to ensure such financial aid is forthcoming to the Japanese in their time of need. Such acts of compassion show that God is still on the throne. God did not cause the tsunami – a fallen creation did. However, God moves the hearts of his people to respond with love and compassion because God is love (1 John 4:8). Let us respond as children of love.