My heart has been heavy. Watching the devastation in Japan is heartbreaking. It's hard to stop watching the videos of the tsunami, to see the incredible, inexorable force rush in and destroy. To realize that some of those houses and cars have people, families in them that could not survive.
It is a reminder how random life can be. My sister-in-law used to live near Sendai. This could have been her tragedy. But it isn't. She happened to live there years ago, when there was no massive earthquake to disrupt the everyday.
Time and chance happen to everyone. This time, the unlucky ones were those living in northeastern Japan. A few weeks ago it was people living in Christchurch. A few years ago it was those living and visiting around the rim of the Indian Ocean.
The world is bigger and more powerful than we want to admit sometimes. We feel solid standing on the earth. But survivors of massive earthquakes know that the ground beneath us isn't really solid. That the earth can move in waves just like the ocean. It's solidity is relative, an illusion.
There is a tendency to trust things that aren't real, that are only illusion, and to feel as though this life goes on just the same forever. We think this way when life is good, and we tend to think this way when life is sad or hard too. Tragedies shock us out of our illusion, at least momentarily. They are scary because we realize it could be us. It is scary because we like to feel like we have some control over our lives, and sometimes we have none.
Many people question God at times like this. "How could God allow this to happen?" Forgetting that Jesus himself said that time and chance happen to all. We weren't created to live a fairy tale life in this world. Hard things happen. I'm sure that at least some of the disciples had their faith shaken when Jesus was crucified. How could this happen to God's anointed? But it was part of the plan.
Death is really part of the plan. For Jesus, for us. God don't want Adam and Eve to choose death. But they did, and he knew they would. It didn't come as a shock. He knew we would need to be rescued. He put the desire for eternity in our hearts, but we can't attain that in this physical world because the physical world is, by plan, temporary. The plan is that physical life is shrugged off like an old garment. And when that shrugging off occurs is really not under our control. It isn't up to us. Often it is up to time and chance. It's hard to make peace with that, but it is an essential reality of existence.
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