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When the World Quakes

First Published JCF Newsletter April 2011

By Gary Alley

Mary Gardner was a Scottish Bible Translator who worked in Togo, West Africa helping to bring the Bible to the Ife people in their own language. She came to study in Jerusalem for six months with Halvor and Miriam Ronning’s Home for Bible Translators. Wednesday, March 23rd a bomb went off next to a crowded Jerusalem bus stop. Mary was the lone fatality, while others were badly wounded, including many teenagers heading home from school. 

Annette Nolting, a German Christian, had come to Jerusalem in 1983 to care for Holocaust victims and to serve the local body of believers. After more than 27 years of faithful service, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March 2010. She passed away Tuesday, March 8, 2011 after a year of hospice.

On Friday afternoon, March 11th, Japan suffered a massive earthquake, followed by an overwhelming tsunami that devastated its northeastern coastal towns and cities. More than 11,000 are reported dead and over 16,000 missing. Even more apocalyptic has been the partial nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant which will undoubtedly affect Japan’s future life and health.

When tragedy strikes, despair enters, and fear fills our thoughts. How do we react? When death stands before us, or crouches near the ones we love, how do we continue to live with hope? When God seems silent in the face of suffering, why do we still trust and believe?

The prophet, Habakkuk, often remembered for, “the righteous will live by his faith (2:4),” reminds us how we are to live out that faith.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength, And He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (3:17-19)

When our world quakes, whether a daily struggle or a catastrophic event, we know that God is there giving us strength to walk in those difficult places. Joy is unknowable until we have experienced that dark night of the soul.