Sunday, March 20, 2011

Natural Disasters

A massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean nearby Northeastern Japan at around 2:46 pm on March 11 (JST) causing various damages in Japan. Sincerely I wish the Japanese people be recovered from this natural disaster soon.

The earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear threat following show us how vulnerable humans are when facing the natural disasters. The disaster makes us think again an old question---what do the natural disasters mean to the rest of us? We ought to help the Japanese people now. At the same time, however, ourselves must also learn from the tragedy. To the end, the natural disasters do not distinguish who live in Japan from who live in anywhere else in the world.

Luke (13:4-5)

Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

In Chinese Translation(路加福音 13)

4 从前西罗亚楼倒塌了,压死十八个人;你们以为那些人比一切住在耶路撒冷的人更有罪么?
5 我告诉你们,不是的!你们若不悔改,都要如此灭亡!

The disaster occurred in Japan is a disaster of mankind. What Japanese are suffering is a suffering to all of us. The inspiration behind the disaster is a revelation to all human beings. Although we may belong to different races and follow different cultures, although in history or at present between us there may be many rivalries and the conflicts of interest, we are on earth the same type of being fragile, being helpless, being imperfect, and suffering the daily painfulness. Indistinguishably God has given us sunlight and air, sea and land, water and food. All of these are to make us realize that we are ultimately one family under the same roof. Therefore, we ought to go to help the brothers and sisters in Japan. This is the right thing we must do.

If there is God, one may question, how could the merciful allow such a catastrophic event happen? Nobody may know the full answer to the question. But the quoted Luke (13:4-5) provides us a few insightful hints.

The situation described in Luke 13:4-5 was similar to what is happening in Japan. Although the scope of the latter one is much greater, the essence of the question is the same. Why did it happen if there is God? In Bible, Jesus did not answer it directly either. By contrast, he said, "But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

The reason of the natural disasters must be very complicated. Certainly all of us are the sinners comparing to the complete goodness of God. The question is, however, that why some are "punished" by the natural disasters while the others are not. Isn't it unfair? Nobody can claim that the ones who died in the earthquake or in the tsunami are worse than us who still live. By contrast, many of them may be very good according to our own standards. Many of them can be much better than some of us still living. The answer from Jesus thus deserves us more attention to thinking of its deeper meaning beyond the explicit expression.

In his speech, Jesus did not deny that the disaster was caused by sin. The Bible says that the whole world was cursed because of our sin. Be alerted, however, it is about all of us but not just about who are killed in any tragedy. By this mean, Jesus totally denied the accuse that God intentionally killed this group of people by a natural disaster because of "their" sin. On the contrary, many places in the Bible it tells that God save people from the upcoming disasters because of HIS love.

Second, Jesus pointed out that the tragedy reminding us to repent. The ones who suffered the disasters were not only due to their own sin but also because of our sin. This is a very powerful message. By this mean without excuse we have to help these people. It is not because of our kindness. It is due to our responsibility since we are part of the reason why they suffered or even died. The Bible tells that we are fortunately still alive only because God does not permit the disasters killing us all.

Hence, based on the Bible, we have a very different view of the natural disasters.

1) We sin; hence there come the natural disasters.

2) The natural disasters want to kill all of us since nobody is not a sinner.

3) God loves us and hence HE does not allow all of us being killed.

4) Some of us, however, still are killed because the natural disasters must happen unless we do not sin (which is impossible).

5) For the ones who are not involved in the natural disasters, we must repent in contrast to celebrate because we must know that they who died were died for us who still live. They who suffered are suffering for us who apparently do not suffer. We have to help them because it is our responsibility instead of our mercifulness or kindness. By doing so sincerely we prove that we do repent.

The last but not the least, God gives life and can resurrect people from death. Therefore, the hope still preserves even if the life of someone is taken by a natural disaster.

May all of us loved more to each other by learning lessons from this catastrophe!

May God blessed all the people, not only the Japanese, who are suffering or were suffered in the natural disasters! Wish them be recovered from the catastrophe soon. May all of us who still live and being away from all these sufferings repent and turn ourselves back towards God so that there will be less and less natural disasters in this world! In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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