March 17, 2011 in Question of the Week, What are your thoughts on the unfolding disaster in Japan? by Noel Hutchinson
On March 11, an earthquake took place off of the coast of Japan, and as a result a tsunami devastated cities in the northern part of that country. It was the most powerful earthquake ever to hit this land, and over 10,000 died as of this writing. In addition to the cleanup and recovery efforts, Japan faces the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl.
As we view this horrific scene, some commentary comes to the surface. Many point an accusatory finger at God, feeling that God is unfair and has abdicated responsibility. This causes others to question God’s existence. In his book The Reason for God, Timothy Keller cites that suffering proves a better argument for God’s existence than one against it.
We see suffering and its challenges through the natural order of the world’s ebb and flow. Life, for example, is marvelous for a lion and challenging for a wildebeest. Our problems with suffering and who and how it hits actually says more about us than it does about God, for it is our attempt to place our private morality on a universe that is truly beyond our comprehension—or as our President once said, ‘beyond our pay grade.’ The Christian faith never fully answers the ‘why’ of suffering; I submit that the full answer would overwhelm us. We do have the assurance that in suffering God shows up and is with us.
We have the supreme example in Jesus, who left the lush economy and location of heaven for the mundane reality of this world, coming into the midst of human suffering. On the cross, Jesus endured the temporary separation from the Father, due to the action He performed for the world. He suffered the anguish of separation and violation that He didn’t merit or earn, yet He withstood.
God, relating to humanity’s sense of loss at what happened in Japan, now equips them and us with resilience and camaraderie to face this important hour.