The most recent reminder of how fragile life can be came to us yesterday. An 8.9 magnitude earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, struck northern Japan causing widespread destruction of building, bridges, roads, and airports. Tsunami waves resulted in massive damage and a loss of life that is, at this point, still growing. The effects of such waves could be felt as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, and California. As the day went on, more and more information and video began to come out of Japan documenting the devastation. The events of yesterday refreshed our memories to previous disasters. Less than a year and half ago, a major earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti causing deaths in the thousands. In December 2005, an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra caused a tsunami which destroyed cities and claimed tens of thousands of lives. How could we forget the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Katrina that the left the city of New Orleans virtually underwater.
When I see such tragedy, loss of life, and displacement of people from the normal routines of life, I am reminded how fragile our given lives are. Millions of people went to sleep in Japan the night before believing the next day would be just like the previous one. For a great number, that time never come. We are told in scripture, in regards to the assuming of tomorrow, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). The psalmist wrote in Psalm 102:11, “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass.”
As we reflect on our lives today, let’s be thankful that God has given us this day to make a difference for Him. Let’s be prayerful that God will extend mercy and grace to the families who have lost loved ones and who await word on those missing. Let’s be hopeful as well that God’s love for the people of Japan will be seen and felt through the disaster relief efforts of the various agencies that will be looking to restore some sense of hope, stability, and normalcy.