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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tsunami Survivors

Modern technology can entertain us and it can sober us. That last
fact was painfully illustrated last week when one of the most powerful
of recorded earthquakes struck Japan. The 9.0 magnitude temblor was
in itself destructive; buildings rocked and foundations were
significantly damaged. The aftereffects of the earthquake was what
caught the world's attention, though.

When the earth shifts under the sea, as happened on March 11, large
waves are formed. These struck the east coast of that island nation,
thrusting 23-foot waves over sea walls and into city streets. YouTube
videos of the phenomenon revealed the awesome power of the raging
water. Cars, boats, houses and more were shown being carried along
through streets. Very little withstood those waves.

Ishinomaki, a city of 164,000 (before last week) on the northeastern
coast of Japan, attests to the power of the tsunami. Yesterday it was
reported that the city was completely destroyed, and 10,000 residents
remain unaccounted for. The projected death toll for all of Japan
will likely be several thousands, officials say.

An earthquake on December 26, 2004 eclipses this most recent event.
Stirred by an earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean, the resulting
tsunami took the lives of over 230,000 people in fourteen different
countries. Videos of that event were burned into our minds. No one
can doubt that ocean waves can be overwhelming.

Even in its calmer moments, the sea poses great danger. David used
this as an image for troubles he had encountered. "If it had not been
for the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then
they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled
against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream
would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone
over our soul" (Psalm 124:2-5).

We don't know the specifics of the incident to which David referred,
but the basis of his comparison sounds a lot like a tsunami. Waters
that completely overwhelm and sweep us away - that's the kind of
ordeal he endured. What hope does a person have in a situation like
that? There is only one sure hope: the Lord.

He's referring, of course, to the One who challenged Job with these
questions: "Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and
issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick
darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set
bars and doors; when I said, 'This far you may come, but no farther,
and here your proud waves must stop!'" (Job 38:8-11).

No one can halt the force of a tsunami's surging waves. No one except
God. The One who created the waves still has the power to demand,
"Peace, be still!" (Mark 4:39). Those who are wise will invite Him to
be in their boat.

What this does not mean is that Christ will keep us from experiencing
physical trials. His followers may even have to face the wrath of
earthquakes or tsunamis. But they need not fear the worst disasters
of life, those that wreck their immortal souls (John 10:27-29).

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him
in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you'd like
to discuss these ideas further.

--Timothy D. Hall

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