For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Romans 8:20-22 TNIV).
Spring is in the air where I live in West Texas. This is our pretty time of the year — grass turns green, flowers bloom, and blossoms are on our Bradford Pear trees. But there are also other harsher reminders of spring that we deal with — immense thunderstorms with hail and lightning and high winds as well as dust storms and tornados. With the goodness of spring also comes the reminder that our world is broken and sometimes violent. We live in a broken world that cries for liberation.
Yet before the normal rhythm of things could remind us that our beautiful world can also be violent, a much more sobering view of our broken world jarred us back to reality as the earthquakes, tsunami waves, and ongoing disasters in Japan rocked our world. We live in a broken world that cries for liberation.
But before we deal with the nagging questions of a broken world and God's role in its brokenness, let's remember something more important right now: many people are broken.
This isn't just an environmental disaster or tragedy, it is not just an economical or nuclear meltdown, and it's not just a giant tear in the earth's crust: it's also a deeply tragic tear in the lives of real people, each one of whom has a name, a story, and a family. I remember a line from the Phil Collins song, Colours, about the suffering in an African famine:
Like a mirror you see yourself,
These people each have a name.
Two statements from ladies swept away in the flood brought this reality home to me. About one, the interpreter put it into these words:
She hung onto a tree with the water swirling all around her ... she hung on for dear life ... then a floor mat drifted near her. She got on the floor mat and floated around and around in the water completely helpless. She drifted around the houses and found herself washed near the school. She says her daughter was washed away with her, but has not been found.*
Another lady, devoid of apparent emotion and in the aftermath of her own personal aftershocks, said:
I lost everything in an instant. I am alive, but I do not know if it is good or bad. I don't know if it is good or bad that I survived.*
This is not a time of philosophizing or theologizing, but is instead a time for empathizing and acting redemptively. There are all sorts of ways to help, and I don't want to discount the importance of prayer. However, in a broken world, those who claim to be members of Jesus' Kingdom are called to make the grace of that Kingdom a reality in the lives of those who need that grace. We're called to help. So I encourage us to help. And if you want to know a place or two to help in the name of Jesus, here are two places to begin:
Please check out their current efforts for tsunami and Japan disaster relief efforts.
If you have other means or connections, that would be great, but let's make sure this is a time of action more than words and compassion more than discussion. So often in cases of such magnitude, we become paralyzed with the enormity of the problem instead of doing something to help folks take the first step. Let's help them take the first step and the Lord will show us what we need to do to help them take the one after that one!
Our Father in heaven, ... may your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven ... and use us to be your instruments of grace, peace, and healing. In Jesus' name. Amen.
* The quotes and images come courtesy of CNN online resources, original reports come from Japanese news and wire services.