The events of the past week have been utterly devastating for the people of Japan. While they will rise again as a people, whatever the consequences are of what has happened to them in the great earthquake and terrible tsunami that followed, it will be a different nation that recovers itself from the unbelievable devastation that one tidal wave could cause in a mere twenty minutes of inundation. And as I write this, the Japanese nuclear authorities are wrestling with the unknown potential of what could happen if their fatally damaged nuclear power plants defy all the efforts of the world’s best nuclear scientists to bring them under control. Although the authorities tell us that nothing so awful as a nuclear explosion could occur, the corporate wartime memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki cannot be far from the minds of those who are being forcefully reminded of their history.
At the same time as these events are unfolding, with devastatingly unstoppable momentum, the Arab world throughout the Middle East is in the sort of political self-inflicted meltdown that has the commentators lost for words. The unspeakably cruel and horrid realities of civil war in Libya, the collapse of Egypt’s previously stable dictatorship, and the trembling of the Gulf States as Saudi Arabian troops cross the borders into Bahrain, have left the oil-dependent west with its own unthinkable scenarios of economic disaster, as the price of oil soars way beyond $100 a barrel.
Meanwhile, a new fear has begun to grip the western world — fear of the economic consequences to all the other nations of what is happening in Japan. The world-wide insurance market alone will have to find something like $40 billion to satisfy the insurance claims and if there is a nuclear disaster in Japan it won’t just be the Japanese who will suffer, the global village which the world has become will all have to pay something of the price. Worldwide recession is a spectre which strikes fear into the heart of the commercial world, which is only just beginning to shake off the shackles of the previous economic downturn.
In the midst of all this truly apocalyptic scenario, none of the western media that I know of carried even one report of what happened in a Jewish community in Samaria, when a man climbed stealthily into the home of a Jewish family and systematically cut their throats, killing five people, including children in a horrendous religious killing. It is hard to compute how anyone could possibly do something so shockingly awful at any time, but to do it in the name of religion is totally beyond comprehension.
One event after another, after another, after another, leaves us increasingly numbed by the horrors our fellow human beings are suffering in different parts of the world. Cause for fear is dominating the world’s headlines. And when fear grips the world as it does right now, there is only one person that anyone can trust for their security and their eternal destiny — Jesus. When earthly securities fail, our need for eternal security becomes paramount. And it is only in the certain knowing of the fact that He really does have the whole world in His hands, that we can find and experience any real peace. It is a peace that does go beyond our ability to understand it. ”Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18).
In the midst of all that is happening there will be those who deep in their hearts are looking for the One who is the world’s only answer. The Churches may have failed to get their message across, but as individuals together, whatever our local church affiliation may be, we ARE the Church. So let’s be vigilant to always be ready to speak a word of hope and encouragement in season to any and all who are ready to listen. However unspeakable world events may be, the effect on some will be to drive them to their knees and cry out to God for help. May all those who truly know the God who is peace, have the courage not to be ashamed to speak that word in season when the moment comes — as it will. We may not have all the answers to their questions at our fingertips, but we can introduce people to the God who IS the answer.