An inexplicably devastating natural disaster has struck our world. At 2:46pm on Friday, March 11, 2011, a massive 9.0 earthquake struck under the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan. Scientists are now reporting that this quake packed so much power that it was enough to shorten Earth’s day by 1.8 microseconds. It also added an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) into the planet’s wobble. GPS data has also revealed that parts of Japan were moved by as much as 13 feet as the quake shifted the underlying fault plates.
Those who have been following the media coverage of the aftermath have witnessed the heart-wrenching images and stories from the victims. Incomprehensible videos have emerged showing us the fury of nature. And, as the events are replayed on our television and computer screens, it seemed everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The largest earthquake in Japan’s history was followed by one of the nation’s worst tsunamis. And then, the sudden loss of electrical power to strategic areas of the country led one of the largest nuclear meltdowns in recent memory.
The lessons that this, and other natural disasters, seem to teach us is often the same: Human life is utterly fragile and tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
Needless to say, the broken people of Japan have been through much over the last several days. The death toll continues to climb and some experts are now predicting that in the final analysis, those who have perished will reach into the “tens of thousands.” Families have been ripped apart by unbelievable loss. Entire cities are gone forever. Fears of radiation exposure haunt the nation. Hundreds of thousands are wandering the streets in their homelessness. Fear of the future and an uncertainty of the present hold the Japanese people tightly within their grip. For millions, life will never be the same.
At times like these, it is natural to look up to the heavens and wonder: Where is God in this tragedy? And how could a loving God allow the deaths of so many innocent men, women, and children?