The word “tsunami” is Japanese and means “harbor wave.” Some people knew the word, but rarely used it; I knew the word but was not sure how to pronounce it! All that changed, however, with one newscast on December 26, 2004, when “tsunami” became reality for hundreds of thousands of people.
Within a few hours the world knew that a tsunami had affected at least eleven nations and within several days we saw the number of those who had lost their lives climb to over 210,000. Hundreds of thousands more lost relatives, friends or property. The number of people whose lives were affected in one way or another by the tsunami will never be known.
When we first heard the extent of damage caused by the tsunami, many of us reacted with shock. Most people at one time or another simply asked “Why did this happen?” and we were given different answers, based on the background of the person who was answering.
Geologists told us that the earth’s crust moved below the ocean off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and that the huge earthquake caused the tsunami. That answer spoke to our brains but not to our hearts.
A Muslim Imam told us that Allah caused the tragedy. Every atom in every wave was guided by Allah, he said. I don’t know about you, but I found no comfort in that statement.
A Hindu spokesperson said that Nature is God and that mankind had abused Nature and so mankind earned the punishment that was dispensed through the tsunami. Even babies and children earned their punishment, we were told. This explanation made me nauseous.
The world relived the tsunami nightmare again on March 11, 2011, when a huge earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.
As a Christian, I turn to the Bible for answers to questions such as, “Why the tsunami?” and “Why the deaths?” and I find multi-layered and multi-faceted answers. In the Bible I find that the earth, the universe and all there is was created by a loving God who is involved in his creation. This involvement does not mean that God micro-manages everything that happens, although he both knows and allows everything that happens.
In love, God gave mankind freedom of will, and so we are not robots. God allows people to act viciously toward each other, if they so choose, or to extend love and aid to others, such as we see in the millions of dollars sent to aid the victims of the tsunami. In love, God created weather patterns that bring rain and snow and sunshine so that food can be grown and life sustained. In God’s wisdom, those same weather patterns sometimes bring droughts or floods or earthquakes. And earthquakes produce tsunamis. In love, God created fire so that our food can be cooked and made appetizing, and our homes can be warmed in winter, but that same fire can burn our houses down and cause loss of life.
In love, God revealed himself to mankind through Jesus Christ; Jesus however was misunderstood and finally was crucified. Today, when we ask God, “Why the tsunami and why the deaths?” God answers back and says, “I love you and I understand your grief. I too suffered pain and death. Even I was not prevented from facing tragedy.” Not the total answer we seek, perhaps, but one that speaks to our hearts.
The geologist explains about fault lines and earth plates, but the Bible assures us that Jesus stands with outstretched arms and says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28].
Natural Disasters (2): Comfort for Survivors: God’s Embrace
作者：谢德华 ©By Edward Short
World Christian Broadcasting