Hurting for the Hurting in Japan

Horror was the first emotion that went through my mind when I saw pictures of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This was quickly followed by a deep heartache for all the families affected. Some family members will never be found.

As I read the news and thought sadly about what the families were going through, I received an e-mail stating that this earthquake and tsunami were proof we were at the end time.

It didn’t take long for prophecy buffs to jump on this disaster and declare that God is punishing Japan for its sins, and all of us need to take it as a warning. The end is near!

I went from horrified and heartsick to angry. There was no mention in the e-mail about praying for or doing something to help the thousands of injured and the untold numbers who have suddenly lost friends and family members. There was no hint of concern about the economic aftermath that will impact huge numbers of God’s beloved children who are suddenly without homes and jobs on top of everything else they are going through.

I thought about the plethora of false ideas about God that prevent his children from seeing him as the God of love that he is. God didn’t cause that earthquake; rather he was there with his children during the earthquake and the following tsunami.

My anger turned to pity. I started feeling sorry for those who only see God as a vengeful Enforcer who is punishing people for their sins. I realized that this view of God prevents people from knowing God, from being in a close, positive relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

“God is love,” 1 John 4:8 says. That is a simple but profound description. The reason God sent his Son was that he loves the whole world—everyone (John 3:16-17). God loves every person who lost his or her life in Japan. God loves every person who is grieving. And he even loves those who are using a tragedy to promote their own misguided view of him.

My pity turned to resolve. This disaster isn’t about deciphering prophecies. Like all disasters, it’s a call to care, to pray, and to do what we can to help others in need, sharing God’s love with them. The end will come when the end will come, but it’s not our job to worry about that. Our job is to be, as we are able and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the collective hands, feet and heart of Jesus Christ in the world until that day—and beyond. May it be so.

Rick Shallenberger, 2011

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