Massive earthquake, monster tsunami, nuclear disaster! I was listening on the CBC Radio One to an interview with the Japanese ambassador to Canada. He said his country could be likened to a supermarket for disasters.
The posted online videos of these Japanese disasters are astounding. One such video taken by someone who had fled for safety to the high ground behind his village, captured the event and its emotion. There, setting up his video camera on a tripod, the videographer captured the onslaught of the tsunami as it relentlessly swallowed up his village below. The Japanese tend to be a reserved, stoic people. But even they were moved by the horror unfolding before their very eyes. The camera’s microphone captured their gasps and cries of astonishment and pain from the group of survivors, watching everything below them that they cherished being destroyed by the tsunami’s irresistible power. Their sense of loss must have been incalculable.
We, post-moderns, tend to take a lot for granted. We think tomorrow will be just like today—only better! As such, we tend to be a very self-confident, self-assured bunch. So when such a disaster befalls people who drive cars like we do, who dress like we dress, who enjoyed a prosperous Western life like we enjoy, somewhere in the backs of our minds we feel uneasy. We feel a bit unsettled. Maybe we even sense our own lack permanence or stability when faced with death and destruction on such a massive scale.
What should be our perspective on the uncertain, temporary nature of life on a planet made up of shifting tectonic plates? The Bible would encourage us to seriously reflect on the big picture—the true picture—about just what is important in life.
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16 New Living Translation).
The values being pushed by our mass media are almost entirely focused on acquiring physical stuff and physical pleasure. However, the present disaster in Japan ought to give you and me some pause to reflect on one of Jesus’ most important teachings directed at this generation:
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21 NLT).