The pictures and reports of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan are heart breaking. The interview with Natsuko Komura, standing dazed where her house had once stood in Sendai city, brought home the devastating impact of the tsunami on thousands of people. She, with others, had escaped by car and had returned to find she had lost all she had and everyone she loved. She said, “Words fail me because there is nothing here, everything is gone.”
Amazingly 60 year old Hiromitsu Shinkawa, from Minami Soma city, was found alive, two days after the tsunami, sitting on the roof of his home 10 miles out to sea. He was waving a piece of red cloth as he clung to the wreckage. He said, “Several helicopters and ships passed by, but none of them noticed me. I thought that day was going to be the last day of my life.” His wife is still missing.
Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and has made extensive preparations for earthquakes in the construction of houses and other buildings and in the design of nuclear power stations. Yet, in the face of the devastating power of the earth and water they were as helpless as the poor people of Haiti last year or as the more affluent people of Christchurch recently. The pictures of the power of the tsunami made us all feel very weak and vulnerable.
How do we respond to these things? People from former generations, who had experienced similar tragedies, found strength in the living God. Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea, even though the oceans roar and foam and the mountains tremble as the waters surge! A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God himself lives in that city; it cannot be destroyed. The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God is Israel is our fortress.”
The Lord Almighty gives us his strength to face the tragedies of life and also hope for the life to come. In the midst of trouble he says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Life in this world, for us all, is just for a time, but heaven, the city of God, is forever.