The pictures streaming from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have horrified many of us, just as 9/11 was a horrendous sight and terrifying shock to our senses. Repercussions have reverberated throughout the world affecting stock markets, energy fears, and businesses. In the midst of this last week of terror and suffering by the Japanese people, I have received information from many different sources generated by the earthquake and tsunami and its aftermath of death, destruction, and radiation fears from the severely damaged nuclear power plants. It is important to get some balanced perspective from as many sensible sources as possible, recognizing that the media will give a picture that is not nearly compatible with the full truth, since they are more pressured to excite and sustain readership and viewership than objectively convey actual facts on the ground.
For example the fears of another Chernobyl have been fired up by the media creating nuclear energy knee jerk reactions around the globe. Unfortunately, the true facts of Chernobyl are in very short supply as the pundits show they are neither aware of the final results of Chernobyl nor able to accurately portray the potential damage to people’s health in Japan and elsewhere; note the run on anti-radiation medicine in the stores of California, Oregon, and Hawaii. In actual fact the only people after thorough study and investigation who died as a direct result of Chernobyl’s meltdown were the 30 people in the plant who died in the explosion. Perhaps you did not know this because you relied on the news media to tell you the truth. Additionally, the Sunday Times of London reported April 28, 2002 that the animals around Chernobyl are “thriving. 50 years after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bombs, the 90,000 survivors had experienced only 700 cases of cancer in excess of the normal rate of cancer in the population, and half of the 90,000 survivors were still living.
One of the most important aspects of the impact of this natural disaster is not even on the radar screen of the media. From a career missionary friend to Japan, who was born and raised there, I received a letter with the expression of hope that this upheaval of shocking proportion will awaken the Japanese people from spiritual lethargy to think about eternal values. He wrote that on any given day in Japan 90-100 people commit suicide. Even as the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami climbs to above 10,000, such a number represents only a third of the people in Japan who die every year by taking their own lives.
As in any disaster, natural or man-made, the question inevitably arises, strangely enough from even atheists and agnostics (go figure), “Why did God allow this, or if He is sovereign over all creation as the Bible teaches, why did He cause it, or why didn’t He stop it if it is just nature running its course? It’s a good question to ask, especially if you also consider your answer to the following questions along with it: “Why has my ignoring of Him been so pervasive in my life in the past? And why am I concerned about His plan, purposes, and practice only when my life is inconvenienced by a disaster that really gets my attention?
This last earthquake, tsunami, or what have you is not nearly the final one we will see or experience. The doozy of them all is still to come, described graphically in Revelation 16, not to mention all those in-between. Whatever the full ramifications of God’s purposes in the many devastations of the past, the present and the future, this much is surely true; it has been seen that is often the only way to shock spiritually dead or lethargic people into seriously evaluating where their life is headed eternally and to seek out the Almighty and Living God. Would that Japan would experience a spiritual revival as a result of this upheaval, as well as other peoples of the world who are able in this 21st Century to see firsthand what is happening across the globe from them. For every believer Japan’s pain should motivate our own prayer life, and stir us more readily and earnestly to speak the gospel into our own personal world, to those near and around us who are devoid of any relationship with Jesus Christ or hope of heaven.
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