I’ve considered the catastrophe in Japan since the day it occurred. I’ve watched the devastating video of torrents of water washing away not only entire villages but the lives of the people who occupied those villages – either figuratively or literally. I’ve seen the haunting photos of a lifeless hand reaching from a mountainous pile of debris, the young woman sitting hopelessly in the midst of chaos, and the smoke standing lurking as a testimony of horror over a handicapped nuclear facility. I’ve heard countless commentators describe their own shock and dismay at what they’ve witnessed. Others opine at the prospect of Japan ever recovering fully from this natural disaster. In the midst of it all, I keep asking myself “Where’s the purpose in it all?
Certainly some theologians will tell us God did not “cause” this catastrophe, but He did “allow” it. That in some way is to support His sovereignty and control over all creation and mankind yet somehow absolve Him of any blame. Others will surely say it is some kind of divine punishment for some undefined “sin” or rebellion of these people who primarily believe in a God other than the Judeo-Christian God. And I also suppose there will be those who say that God did not have a hand in any of it other than to set the world in motion at creation and let it “produce” what it will as both time and earth evolve.
Which, if any, of these scenarios or explanations can answer the question “Where’s the purpose?” I’m not certain. What I am certain of, it seems beyond my imagination that God would in any way bring this kind of calamity on a people – any people. That God, any god, would find any purpose or satisfaction in this scale of human misery.
Of course, there are my “brothers and sisters” out there who would chide my thoughts and explain to me how God’s purpose is beyond our understanding…”His ways are not our ways” etc., etc.. And all of that may be true. These are some of those who would mark the events in Japan and its effect around the world as just one more piece of the puzzle to the return of Christ. Which, as an event itself, is shrouded in unspeakable horror when taking the biblical text at face value.
Our pastor broke from his series to address the issues in Japan and how to come to terms with them. In an attempt to summarize his thoughts…it should “teach us what’s important in life.” In a Newsmax article, it seems that Franklin Graham as concluded “Help your fellow-man as much as you can, and always be prepared to meet your maker (article writer’s words not a direct quote of Graham).” Is there not more depth to all of this than what either of those comments reveal? Of course, but how do you put that into a perspective that helps people understand? I suggest you cannot. You can only ask, “Where’s the purpose?”