After Tragedy, How Will We Live?
- Friday, March 18, 2011
I had barely been a resident of Hawaii for eight weeks and found myself woken up early one Sunday morning to the frightening sounds of alarms, not just from a clock radio or a passing emergency vehicle, but rather from the warning sirens indicating an approaching tsunami. My only awareness of them prior to this was from what I saw on the news reports from Thailand years before.
It was February 28, 2010 and Chile had experienced the sixth largest earthquake ever recorded, an 8.8 magnitude, during the late hours of the night before triggering tsunami warnings in 53 countries around the world. Aside from the major devastation resulting from the earthquake itself, the tsunami that ensued caused more than $66 million of destruction to the Tohuku region of Japan alone, but thankfully, we only experienced minor effects in Hawaii, yet it implanted an imagery I wouldn’t soon forget.
Fast forward one year and I was sitting in my church small group meeting only a couple of hundred yards from the ocean when text and voice messages from all over the country started coming in vibrating all of our phones warning us of another impending threat. Those unsettling memories from a year ago quickly returned.
After a hasty conclusion to our meeting, many of our fears were exacerbated when we turned on the television to see the horrific scenes of entire communities and livelihoods being washed away in Japan. Fortunately for us, we had almost an eternity to prepare compared to those along the Japanese coastline who had less than 30 minutes, if they even received word at all.
For the next six hours, the State of Hawaii went through its comprehensive tsunami preparedness plan while the rest of us tried to discern what might be the severity of this emergency and the best course of action for ourselves and our friends and family.
Of course there were some who treated this as just another drill or photo opportunity at the beach, however, for many it was a stressful and traumatic experience, especially for those who had friends or loved ones in Japan or were in Hawaii visiting on vacation.
Many who had children raced around town collecting kids who were beginning their Spring Break, others ran down to the waterfront to move boats and secure water craft, while the rest seemed to join the ever-growing lines at gas stations and grocery stores emptying the shelves of water, food, batteries and ice.
Although most of us had faced a similar, and many believe providential , experience just thirteen months earlier, the latest video footage of the total annihilation of towns in Japan burned images of what was possible and radiated a sense of shock in the hearts of most everyone who viewed them.
As I tried to organize my own thoughts and necessities, debating whether my location ten feet above sea level and fifty yards from the marina was going to be sufficient for my safety, I paused (briefly) to reflect upon God’s Word and wondered what his will for me, my friends, the State of Hawaii and the world was at that moment.
I was reminded of the hundreds of recent earthquakes around the Pacific Rim and the active Kilauea volcano on the neighboring island over the past month, and speculated on what this may all be leading to. Add in the tension and uprisings in the Middle East and I was feeling very isolated on this volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific.
Maybe none of this should have surprised me.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land” (Haggai 2:6).
For many of us who have spent years reading passages like this we probably never actually considered what the enormity, potential or ramification of the results could be, until now. When we vividly see how little time and control we have in the wake of an earthquake or tsunami, and see the massive destructive power that can be created, we can undoubtedly appreciate our relationship with God more than ever.
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