He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from the beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
There is a Japanese saying which goes like this: "Natural disasters return when we are just about to forget the last one."
The saying is a true one.
For example, in 1995 I lived through the great Kobe earthquake in Japan. Even though it had a lesser magnitude of 6.8, it still caused great damage. Back then Christians remembered "Kobe" means "door of God." It was an appropriate title because after that earthquake many people came through the doors of our churches.
Unfortunately, this attendance increase -- not unlike what happened in America after 9-11 -- was a temporary one. All too soon the Japanese people forgot the terrifying experience of the Kobe earthquake.
Now, just a few days ago, we were once again reminded of God's power. This time, in Sendai, a northern city of Japan, we have seen an earthquake which registered 9.0 Even though I grew up in Japan, this is, by far, the strongest earthquake I have ever seen. It had to be strong since this mega-earthquake has shaken two-thirds of my native land.
Scripture is clear that the Lord wishes good for His people. Even so the bad still comes. Both the Bible's Testaments -- and history -- tell us these tragedies are allowed because God wishes to call people from what they were to what He wishes them to be. The question is this: "What is God trying to teach the people of Japan and the rest of the world?"
I must believe the Lord is trying to get the attention of the Japanese people who have ignored Him for a long time. In this earthquake He has reminded them of who has given them unconditional love, grace and money. Indeed, He has even given them the land in which they live.
Now God wants to call Japan, and other peoples, from the present take-and-take attitude they have to a take-and-thank attitude. This is the proper relationship saved souls should have to their Rescuer.
This ought to be a wake-up call for the Japanese and a wake-up call for all humanity. It ought to help us remember our spirituality and who is in control. There can be no argument: even though God has allowed Japan to accomplish some great things, He is still greater. As a nation, Japan pointed with pride to its nuclear reactors, boasting they could withstand a 7.0 earthquake. No planner ever anticipated a quake which would register 9.0.
Yes, we have been humbled ... just as any person who thinks he can stand on his own, or trust in his own wisdom and strength will also be humbled. Now it is time to remember. We need to remember that even as an earthquake has shown Japan's nuclear plants to be fragile and imperfect, God's perfection will someday expose the flaws of souls who think of themselves as being self-sufficient.
The earthquake ought to help the world remember. We need to remember we are not so great. We need to recall everything we have is a gift from God. We need to keep in mind how much we need the Savior, Jesus Christ.
He who has conquered our sin, the devil's temptations and even the hand of death, can bring His faithful people through an earthquake ... any earthquake ... no matter how high a number it registers.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us remember Your ongoing love and mercy. Help us appreciate the many blessings You give. We do not know what disasters may come tomorrow, but we do know You are greater than them all and You will bring Your helpless children through. These things we know because Jesus has said He will be with us. In His Name. Amen.
I'D LIKE TO THANK AND INTRODUCE YOU TO THE AUTHOR OF THIS SPECIAL DEVOTION:
His name is Pastor Jun Takagi (say: ta KA gee). Born in Japan, he has completed his seminary studies and has been called to be a missionary to the Japanese-language-speaking people of Indiana and surrounding states. He and his wife visit people in their homes, students in their schools and conduct Bible studies as well as English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. With the Holy Spirit's guidance and by the power of the Word, Pastor Takagi believes his purpose is to help transform the minds and hearts of those who need a Savior. The good reverend serves as pastoral advisor for Lutheran Hour Ministries in Indiana and asks for your support and prayers. Join him in asking the Lord to give a proud people that which they need the most: the Savior.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries