Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Japan Matters To Us: On Suffering & Hope

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

I'm sure you've heard by now about the tragedy happening in Japan after the 8.9 magnitude Earthquake that devastated the country on Friday afternoon.  The earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that brought even more death and destruction to the already wounded country. 

Things like this don't always hit home for those of us who live in distant lands, surrounded by comfort and even luxuries.  And when the news finally does sink in, we are left confused, questioning a God who says He cares and who says that He will take care of us.  How can we make sense of the tragedy in our lives in the shadow of an all-powerful, all-loving God?

Either He is lying...or He doesn't really care.  That's what it seems like at times, doesn't it?

Last weekend at church I was really moved by a message addressing this issue.  Long before the devastation in Japan, these questions have been asked by men and women all through history.  Men and women trying to make sense of the pain in our worlds while believing in the power of our God. 

The pastor explained this concept by separating "this age" from "the age to come".  

Some see "this age" as our current world: filled with destruction, death, and pain.  They await the "coming age" when there will be no more tears or sorrow...the day when Jesus will come back to rescue His people.
For these people, life can be very black and white.  They tolerate today, rather than thriving in it, in hopes of a better tomorrow.

Others believe that once Jesus came, "the age to come" had arrived.  That every tear would be immediately wiped from our eyes, and that Jesus would bring healing, success, and prosperity to those who believed.  For these people, discouragement is just around the corner when they are hit with disease, financial difficulty, and persecution.

So how can we make sense of this?  If Jesus is alive and powerful, why do we still suffer?  Whey do we still mourn?  Why is life still filled with hardships and strife?  Why is there still cancer, AIDS, and childhood trauma?

The pastor posed that it is because there is in overlap between "this age" (the time of Jesus entering our world as a baby) and "the age to come" (the second coming of Jesus).  The coming of Jesus DID bring hope, healing and new life.  It broke the chains of death and despair.  People who give their lives to this higher calling are filled with hope and freed from the pain of sin and death.  They are changed.  They are transformed.  I don't just believe this concept...I am living proof.  Jesus has brought hope into my life, freedom from addictions, and a peace that doesn't even make sense.  And I have seen him do the same and more in the lives of those around me.   

But this is not the end of the road.  Though Jesus brought rays of sunshine into the dark clouds of our lives, there is still something even greater that is to come.  There will be a day when these dark clouds dissolve and the face of God will bring the never-ending light of hope into our lives...forever and ever. 

You see my friends, this world is just the appetizer.  It is not meant to fill us because it can't.  But the main course is just around the corner to those who persevere.  There will be joys in this world, but there will also be pain...until the day that "every tear will be wiped away".

God is still alive and at work in our lives...preparing our hearts and the hearts of those around us for the day when He will have the final say.  Press on.  Have hope.  This is not the end of the story. 

As we meditate on the life of Jesus during this season of Lent, we are thankful, God, for the hope that you brought into our world.  We are grateful that you chose to bring your sunshine into our dark lives through the birth of your Son Jesus and through His death.  And we are hopeful, awaiting the day when you will come again, wiping every tear from our eye and bringing an irreplaceable joy.  Amen. 

"And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. 

Oh, you will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead....

Those moments are appetizers for the dish that is to come."--Max Lucado


  1. Hard have an amazing faith...As always..XOXXO

  2. A hard subject to comprehend. We live on a planet that was lent to us. Have we abused its gifts and are paying for it now?

  3. Bongo, again, it's easy to have faith so far from the devastation. My prayer is that God grants this faith when I am the one face to face with the despair.

    Yoga, It is a hard make a good point. We have definitely abused our world, and each other in it. It's hard to know what are consequences and what are just the patterns of life.

  4. Debra- I love your blog and this post. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, it just seems like events are happening closer together and the world is getting harder to live in. I love the beatitudes and there are so many passages in the bible that tell us about how much better our lives will be in the next life and that the more we go through in this life, the more jewels that will be in our crowns in the life to come. My heart aches for what people across the world are going through right now but God is in control and just like I do with my seriously ill son, I give it up in prayer and know that God will bless that land and use the tragedies for the good. It is so hard to grasp though....

  5. Kimly thanks for such a heartfelt post. I appreciate your kind words about my blog and I'm honored that you take the time to read. You have such a positive perspective and we can learn a lot from you. It's really sobering to hear first hand experience about suffering, and I pray that God gives you the strength daily as you deal with your son and his illness. Praying for your situation. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  6. I feel Japan is suffering, not because it is any more sinful than an other country. There are many lessons that I have learnt as I observe the Japanese people's response to their tragedies.1) People who have suffered much can still show decency in the way they treat each other. 2) In times of disaster, the Japanese did not go on a looting rampage like in may other countries. They did not sacrifice their values during their difficulties. They even queued up for rations. 3) The third lesson is a little bit more hard to accept because of the suffering the Japanese had to endure so that we could all learn this ie: Even with all the technologies to survive natural disasters, God can sweep it all away in a matter of seconds.Our technologies no matter how great cannot withstand the power of God.It is a humbling experience that man ultimately must still rely on God to survive.

  7. Theresa you make some really good points. It sounds like God is really teaching you a lot through this experience and many others. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  8. Thank you Debra :) Every Friday, our school has what we call as religious/ moral sessions.Last year two teachers and myself formed a group for the Christian students and for all those who could not understand chinese/ tamil. So every Friday I had to find something to talk about. That's when I started reflecting on things that were happening around me in school, home, country and in the world as well. I try to explain things based on stories from the bible or from other sources. I find that we can learn a lot about what is happening in our world today by reflecting on what has happened in the past to the biblical figures . I have found that these Friday sessions have also motivated me to read the bible more often:)


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