I was sitting on the porch in Mexico when it happened. One minute I was calmly talking on the phone and the next I was wondering where the train tracks were. Well, I thought it must be a train. After all, first the porch started shaking so badly that I was bouncing. And there was a rumbling sound I had never heard before. Then debris and tiles started sliding off the roof. That’s when it finally dawned on me that it was an earthquake. I found out later that we were experiencing the effects of an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale.

In the area where we were, we heard of no serious injuries and most of the damage was relatively minor. The house where I was had roof damage and some cracks in the walls but no lasting structural damage. Once it was over, and everyone was fine, it became the subject of thankfulness, teasing, and relief. But it did remind me of some important lessons.

1. The unexpected happens. Life can change in an instant. A car runs a stop sign and lives are changed forever. A natural disaster that you never imagined. A routine visit to the Doctor that reveals a disease you never dreamed you had. The phone call that changes everything. There are things in this life that are out of our control.

2. It could always be worse… and sometimes is. We were all relieved, but it could have been so much worse. But if the earthquake had been a little more severe and if we had been a little closer to the epicenter, I would be writing a different article. Or someone else would.

3. You think about what matters. The phone calls among my friends in Mexico all started the same way: is everyone OK? The first concern was for people, not things.

4. But this whole experience made me realize one thing above all others. I am so thankful to be a Christian. If the damage had been worse, Christians would have taken care of each other. If I had died, my wife would have taken comfort in the fact that we would be together again in heaven.

How do survive when a "life earthquake" strikes?
Life is full of earthquakes: real ones, emotional ones, financial ones, horrible ones. What do you do in those times if this life is all you have? If you would like to know more about surviving the earthquakes of life, write me at steve@hopeforlife.org or join the blog discussion at www.hopeforlife.org.

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