How NOT to respond to a natural disaster:
People Want Answers
"The end-time earthquakes in the book of Revelation are meant as calls to repentance—to warn people who deny Jesus Christ that a day is coming when unbelievers will cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb”
The end-time earthquakes in Matthew 24:7-8 are meant to be interpreted as “the beginning of the birth pangs.” That is, they are a wake-up call to this world that God's kingdom will soon be born. So be alert and prepare to meet Jesus Christ.
God's unilateral taking of thousands of lives is a loud declaration that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). The message for all the world is that life is a loan from God (Luke 12:20) and belongs to him. He creates it and gives it and takes it according to his own will and owes us nothing. He has a right both to children (2 Samuel 12:15) and to the aged (Luke 2:29). It is a great gift to learn this truth and dedicate our lives to their true owner rather than defraud him till it is too late. - John Piper
(Note: Thes are just a few possible explanations for the earthquake that Piper offered. You can read the rest here.)
How to respond to a natural disaster:
Weep and Repair
Is the Japanese earthquake and tsunami an 'opportunity for the church' as some have said? Yes, but not the selfish sort of opportunity. It is an opportunity for the church to weep and repair; to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who need his healing presence.” - Skye Jethani
Referring to the story of Lazarus, Jethani writes:
Notice what Jesus does not do. He does not see their pain and grief as an opportunity to talk about sin, repentance, of the fires of hell. And he does not use the tragedy as a chance to inflate the ranks of his own followers or give some theological explanation for the illness and death of Lazarus…What he does do is share in their grief. By doing so he acknowledges the wrongness of death, the bitter pain that it brings, and the reality of its sting….But Jesus does more than weep with Mary and Martha. He then raised Lazarus from the grave (John 11:43-44). He undid what death had done. He repaired what was broken.
You can read Jehtani's entire piece here.
To me, it’s the difference between saying, “I know why this happened and that God is responsible for it,” and “I don’t know why this happened, but I know that God can redeem it.” One offers an explanation, the other offers a response. One looks backward at the things we cannot change, the other looks forward to the things that we can. One presumes to know the mind of God, the other simply imitates the actions of Jesus.
We cannot know for sure why these things happen. But we can weep, and we can help, and we can pray.
The Japanese people don't need our lectures; they need our love.
Prayer for Japan after the Earthquake from the Church of England:
"O loving Creator, bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them. We pray for those who may be affected as the tsunami spreads across the Pacific. May we all be aware of your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls. May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth. May we dare to hope that through the generosity of the privileged, the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again. Through our Savior Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us. Amen."
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