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On Sleep and Tsunamis

March 26, 2011


Lately, while laying (lying?) in bed before I fall asleep, I’ve been thinking about how uncertain life really is. I could have a serious illness and never know about it. My heart could fail while sleeping. I could have some kind of weird artery clot and never wake up from brain damage. So many things that I could never even know about. It seems so crazy but possible that I might never wake up again. I don’t at all mean this in a morbid way, just in a thoughtful way. God holds every single breath, every single blood cell and every brain wave. Am I preprared to meet my Maker at any time? 


Since the earthquake/tsunami have still been so much in conversation and news, I have continued to think about it, and when I think about all of the “innocent people” who died during that tsunami and the earthquakes and the aftershocks, I think, to some degree, how could God do this? Because He did do this. He did. “I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God…I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” (Isaiah 45:5-7). So were the Japanese, as I mentioned, innocent? Was God unjust to kill so many people in Japan? If they were sinners, the same as they are here in the States and everywhere, do they not deserve God’s judgment?

“[Speaking of the disaster in Japan] Repentance is always the issue. ‘You mean, men have to lose their lives to bring that sign?’ Brethren, this is the wrath of God against justly deserved sin…What about all of the rest of the days out of the year when God didn’t destroy those cities? They were just as deserving all those other days…[People] are quick to call Him a terrorist. What about all the other days when they should’ve been praising Him…everyone of us deserved this [destruction] by nature…These are merciful warnings.” – Tim Conway (excerpt from the video below)

But what else does He send? Grace. Grace from the cross of Christ. Judgment from God points to the great Judgment of God that will come, and all of these judgments call out to people “Repent! You deserve this!”

“Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13).

Unless you repent you will likewise perish.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jimmy permalink
    April 21, 2011 7:42 am

    I can understand the idea that we could all be deserving of judgment and that it could come at any time but I guess what interests me is the choosing of those who are to be punished. Obviously, there would be no real way to discover fully God’s logic (although, I’m sure you could say that it can be found in the Bible) but it just hurts me to think that if the destruction in Japan was his wrath, why couldn’t it have been brought down upon a maximum security prison full of rapists and the murderers of children? Surely there are many devout Christians in Japan and I doubt very much that they all escaped unscathed.

    I’ve heard in the past people say that all sin is equal and I guess, whether by my humanity or selfishness, I just can’t fully accept that.

    • April 21, 2011 10:21 pm

      I think you’re right, that we’ll never know all the reasons that God does what He does, and it’s not even revealed in the Bible. I definitely don’t know the reasons behind this devestating tragedy in Japan. Obviously all of this hinges on one’s beliefs concerning sin (as you mentioned). Are all people sinful? Do all people deserve the consequences of sin? Fundamental questions that change how you view life and, in this case, death/tragedy. I would say, yes, all people are sinful. To your point on sin, yes, in God’s eyes, any sin, big or small, public or private, is equally culpable before God because it all comes out of this idolatry of making myself my own God and refusing to worship the true God. All sins are not equal in consequences necessarily, but all are equal in their culpability. I’m sure you are right, there were probably Christians who died in Japan, but they didn’t die under God’s judgment of sin, because God’s wrath for their sins was appeased in Christ. I don’t know the reasons that these specific people died as opposed to some others maybe more deserving in our eyes, but we can’t miss the sign:

      The main thing for us, as I mentioned in the main post, is that tragedies like this are meant as a sign to call all men to repentance: “…but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” And it’s not just the tragedy that calls us to repentance: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2) All the times when life is good and nothing bad is happening in our lives is also meant to show God’s kindness/patience as a call to repentance.

      • Jimmy permalink
        April 23, 2011 7:22 am

        I can see the logic in a lot of what you’ve said. Perhaps tragedies seem more tragic to me because I’ve never really had faith that there even is a God. It makes sense from the perspective of the truly devout christian that there were no innocent deaths in Japan and that the faithful moved on up to Heaven.

        I can understand your point on the culpability of sin as kind of the lowest common denominator of all sins. However, I don’t fully understand how all sins, big or small, ultimately are seen in God’s eyes as people engaging in self-worship rather than worship of Him. I mean, does it relate back to the fact that he laid down his law and if you violate that law you are basically saying, “I know better than you what is right or wrong for me…” ?

  2. April 23, 2011 9:39 pm

    Let me say that I really hope I haven’t sounded at all removed from the immense sorrow of the tragedy in Japan. I think there’s always a danger in sounding like I care less or because I think I know some things that I am more removed from the tragedy of it, I’m really not. And God is not removed either. I think it might be helpful at this point to zoom out a little from this particular point in history and look at a bigger picture to get a little more perspective; otherwise I risk sounding like I don’t think things like this tsunami in Japan are too important. Bear with me as I think this has a lot of impact on the topic at hand.

    God created the world and man. Man chose self over God, and broke the perfect, divine fellowship by sinning against Him, plunging mankind into self-incurred sin. Sin ruined the perfect world God had created, ushering with it death, destruction, disasters, and everything else that we can call wrong and evil. But God sent Jesus into the sin and pain of planet Earth to begin the process of redemption. Christ died, defeating death and beginning to reverse the curse of sin. One day, Christ will come again and have final victory over sin, pain, oppression, injustice, and every other wrong. He will restore the earth and the heavens to perfection. So, that being said, Christ lived in this. He experienced everything, every pain and every problem that we as people face. He sympathizes with us and knows our hurt. That is why I hope I don’t sound aloof as to the pain and tragedy of disasters like we witness, often daily, like the tsunami in Japan.

    To your point on sin: yes, you are exactly right, it all goes back to what does God command versus what I want. His way, or my way? His desires, or my desires? Obedience to Him, or obedience to me? Every time I choose my way over God’s way (the ultimate version of this being when someone chooses self over Christ, my way over the gospel), I’m saying, “I know best, I know what I want, I’m the king of my life, I’m God.”

    • Jimmy permalink
      April 27, 2011 8:19 am

      Looking back on my comment I realize that I simplified an idea to the point that it almost sounded like an insult. In the short time I’ve known you, Adam, I’ve come to know you as an empathetic and caring human being. I certainly was not trying to imply that you, or people of faith in general, are less sensitive to the suffering of mankind. I mean, look at Gandhi, MLK Jr., and Mother Teresa, all very devout people who dedicated their lives to alleviating suffering. I guess what I was trying to say was that there is bound to be a difference in the way that a person of faith deals or copes with tragedy and the way that someone who is more unsure as to the nature of the universe does. I suppose it’s unfair to hang any kind of measurement on that. Maybe it’s just a different lens that they look through.

      To the idea of Jesus coming to earth and experiencing human suffering; I can understand his goal of reversing the curse of sin. However, I’m curious as to why it had to be done twice. If he’s coming back to finish the job it makes me wonder why he didn’t do it all at once. Was it that he came the first time to let us know that He was the real deal and these next however many centuries is our time to find our way to Him? And if that’s so… why?

      • April 29, 2011 9:12 pm

        No worries at all, I just wanted to clarify in case I had come across sounding like that at all. And I agree, that there is a difference between how “a person of faith”/Christian thinks through tragedy and suffering and how someone without faith/Christ does. Good analogy too, it is a different lens.

        Good question! Basically, why did Jesus not finish everything all at once when He was here the first time, instead of waiting and coming again someday to have final victory? The answer that you posed is on the right track, I think. But, as you alluded to, it’s not a simply answer, so I will give you a couple pieces of the answer that the Bible gives us. (Keeping in mind that ultimately nobody knows all the reasons that God has planned history/future the way He has, except that it is ultimately for His greatest glory; Ephesians 1, Isaiah 42, etc etc) 2 Peter 3 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise [to come again], as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance…and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” The meaning is clear, God isn’t being ‘slow’ to come again and fulfill His promise, but is being patient to allow for more people “to come to repentance.” God’s patience equals salvation for man. So I would say that’s a big part of the reason He delays in coming again. Another thing that we can see in the Bible is that this whole metanarrative, if you will, is the story of what God is doing in humanity. So it’s more than just: there’s sin, and then God fixes everything and makes everything right overnight. Rather, God has chosen to work through people on the earth to bring Himself glory. Could God have done it a different way? Definitely. But this is the way that He, in eternity past, decided would bring Himself the most glory. I hope that helped answer your question a little.

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