There is no doubting that this is a significant 'natural' disaster.
If you are like me, you've likely seen photos and video of some of the damage and have had to pick your jaw up off of the table...
Here is one of the more amazing videos I've seen:
Also - Here are some images from above - Before & After Photos
One of the most astonishing things I have read is that this particular earthquake (5th largest ever in terms of scale ratings if I'm not mistaken) said that it moved the coastline of Japan as much as 8 feet! ARTICLE
By all accounts it is heartbreaking. As with most tragic situations many people wonder what they can/should do? How does one make sense of all of this? For the Christian... where does God come in here?
John Piper posted a prayer for Japan that rocked and resonated with my heart...
Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.
And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.
O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.A Prayer for Japan
I too have been asking a couple of questions:
1 - What should I do?
2 - What does this mean for me as a follower of Jesus?
To answer the first I think it is prudent for Amy (my wife) and I to consider how we might be able to make some room in our finances to give some funds to The Salvation Army or another organization that will put it to good use to meet the needs of those who find themselves homeless and broken and grieving. I think we (my wife & I) should also set aside some money for organizations like Churches Helping Churches (http://churcheshelpingchurches.com/) who stepped in to help the local church in Haiti meet the needs of the people around them in a time of disaster... and perhaps serve the local churches in Japan to help them to be a beacon of hope for the hopeless for the people of Northern Japan.
Those are some practical things that I can do from my cold but rather comfortable place here in Fargo, ND.
But what about the other question? In some ways... this one is deeper. Not more important that meeting the physical needs of those in distress BUT more significant in that it informs and directs our response to this need and every other need (both small and great) that comes our way.
I think Jesus gives us some insight in Luke 13. (Luke 13:1-5)
"There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'"
So what does this mean? The people were asking a question about the wrongness of what Pilate had done. Man's sin against man. Jesus' answer is something like, "do you think that they are in worse spiritual condition because this happened to them?"
Then Jesus goes on to reference natural disaster... "or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you..."
This terrible thing happened to them... a tower fell and crushed them... but were they killed because they were worse sinners? Of course not. Jesus' answer is no... and he continues... "but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
All of these things point us to the truth that we all deserve to be overtaken by the flood... and crushed under the weight of sins tower topping on our heads. And yet, God's kindness is extended to us in Jesus... and we repent of our sin and call out for salvation. He is our hope.
For the follower of Jesus, these things should cause us to repent and it screams to a broken world the kindness of God... that his mercy is extended... To quote Piper's prayer, "And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head."
Pray for Japan. Pray for the latent sin in your own heart to be rooted out as God has granted you and I a new day of life to trust in Him for our salvation...
That is where I find myself today... Soli Deo Gloria.
(p.s. I have found this sermon particularly helpful in working through the reality of God and His sovereignty in the midst of tragedy! Difficult but helpful. --Where Is God?--)