Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Earthquake Tsunami: Making Sense of the Disaster

When his master head the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how you’re slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.  – Genesis 39:19~20

Nineteen ninety-seven. I closed my eyes as I held my breath. Any second now I would feel the impact... Thug! Touch down! Welcome to Japan! I could see that my companions, Victor and Menchie, were relieved just like me. It was the first time for the three of us to travel to Japan, and the first time we rode an airplane.

As the airplane taxied around the Narita International Airport, I looked outside the window and I saw human beings in yellow and orange winter clothing hurriedly and methodically working. The airport which was very big and technologically sophisticated was intimidating to an inexperienced traveler like me. However, in the outskirt of the airport,  I could see the welcome view of many trees. Very impressive.

That business trip was followed by several others. At first, I felt so out-of-place; I couldn’t hardly wait to go home. But slowly the beauty of Japan, and the culture of its people captured my heart. The place was simply amazing. It was like being in a room that felt and smelled technology with workaholics all over the place. But the moment you stepped out of that room, you would be transported to a beautiful, scenic nature with crystal clear running river water, and greeneries all around you. In Japan, nature and technology coexisted harmoniously. And those workaholics? It turned out, to my surprise, that they knew how to have fun too and could even go crazy in a fun way. This was a place where work and recreation had a very clear boundary.

It’s been around 4 years now since the last time I visited the place I considered my second home country. I missed it already. That was why I was shocked and disturbed when I saw the devastation brought by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, and that unbelievable tsunami. Watching in the internet those powerful waters with burning houses, cars, boats, debris rushing across farmlands straight into the city was simply surreal. It’s like watching the movie 2012 except that this time it was for real! I could just imagine the death toll, the millions of dollars worth of damages, and the sorrow of the Japanese people. How could God let this happen?

The same question must have popped up into Joseph’s head when his own brothers sold him to slavery because of jealousy, and when he was jailed because of Potiphar’s wife false accusation.

I won’t pretend to understand why this devastation happened. I don’t. Trying to do so is like trying to pick God’s mind using my own puny brain. What I do know is that under God’s plan, something good and beautiful will always come out in the end. The story of Joseph, son of Jacob, is one good example. The ‘misfortunes’ that beset him were really God’s way of preparing him for His grand plan – to make him governor of all Egypt, second only to the pharaoh, and in the process saved his father, brothers and their families from starvation.

When bad things happen to us remember the story of Joseph. Instead of being bitter and losing hope, let’s keep the faith alive knowing that God is in control, and that His plan is more beautiful than we could ever imagine when it unfold in the end.

PS1: To my Japanese sisters and brothers in Christ, I mourned with you. You’re losses are great. However, knowing the resilient spirit of the Japanese people and your dedication to excellence, I know that your country will rise above all this stronger than ever. 

PS2: In the picture above, houses are swept by water following a tsunami and earthquake in Natori City in Japan. Click here to read more.

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