Internet news sites always provide a ready distraction from a deadline. But when those posts contain a dozen stark videos of the unprecedented Japanese earthquake and tsunami, perhaps the procrastination can be forgiven.
Each new harsh scene of ships and cars tossed together like bathtub toys, each new account of surprising survivors and shocking destruction, contributes to the jumble washing through my thoughts.
Responsibility—what should I do with my plenty to help a population reduced to a struggle for survival?
Reevaluation—how can I believe all my attention to what I own and what I earn will bring me any security or safety in a world that can so quickly be upended and washed away?
Reflection—what is truly most important to me and to the churchgoers I met in the hallway this Sunday morning?
One of my wife’s former students, a Japanese national now returned to her homeland for Christian service, wrote on her Facebook page, “Please pray for the Japanese, because they don’t know Jesus.” And I wonder what brings me the greatest gratitude: that I know him, or that my home is (so far) sound, my physical surroundings (for today at least) predictable?
The Internet distraction has given me this Easter Sunday column, written just before we send this issue to the printer on Tuesday after the Friday earthquake. Perhaps it is good to be confronted by so much devastation as we remember the bedrock reason for our faith.
Maybe we can see that chocolate eggs and spring dresses and Easter buffets are not enough reason to celebrate. Maybe we can be reenergized by Easter to focus on the fact of life hereafter and the challenge to prepare, and help others prepare, for that certain reality.
Christ himself told us disasters like that in Japan would precede his second coming (Matthew 24:7, 8). With our eye on that hope, let us heed what Paul told the church in Corinth. “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,” he reminded them, with a challenge to “stand firm.” And then he added, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 28).
So much work and worry on this earth can be destroyed by a two-minute rupture in the earth’s crust. But today we celebrate the reality that Christ will redeem everything for his purposes, maybe someday soon.