Posted by: gregboyko | March 11, 2011

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and God

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 is one of the largest on record in the last 100 years. Anyone who’s viewed the photos and video footage coming from Japan has seen a brief glimpse of just how devastatingly violent this planet Earth can sometimes be.

With an official death count in the hundreds, and which will undoubtedly climb into the thousands, Japan is experiencing a natural disaster of massive proportions. Lives have been lost, and the lives of many survivors will be changed forever.

And amidst all this, many people ask questions like “where is God?” or “how could God let this happen?” Big questions, and the answers could have a dramatic impact on one’s life outlook.

I happened to see a tweet today that summarized how a lot of people view God and Christians:

Hey guys, just got back from Japan… they are STOKED about all those prayers. Totally fixing everything.

Now I don’t know the individual that posted this tweet, but clearly he believes prayer is useless, and I can also speculate (fairly safely) that he doesn’t have much respect for Christians or for God. But he has a point: what the people of Japan (or any other people suffering from a devastating disaster) need right now is to see God through the actions of His people. While it’s nice to know that someone is praying for you when you’re hurting, it can be even more important to have one’s immediate needs met.

A faith that is not strong enough to influence one’s actions is no faith at all.

When Jesus ministered on this same violent earth nearly 2000 years ago, His ministry was one of caring, expressed not through prayer (although that was part of it), but primarily through meeting the needs of the people he encountered. He asks us to do the same.

In Matthew 25 Jesus said:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Jesus could just as well have said “My home was destroyed by a Tsunami, and you helped me get back on my feet”.

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The bottom line is that we as Christians need to follow Christ’s example—we must meet the needs of those who are are in need.

In James 2, we read:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

This passage in James conveys the same sentiment shown in the tweet I quoted above. If James had been more sarcastic, and had he lived in our time, he might have tweeted something similar.

James also says in Chapter 4, verse 17:

17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

My point is that no one—not even for a moment—should think that because they are “praying” for someone in need that they are not also responsible for doing what they can to meet those needs.

A faith that is not strong enough to influence one’s actions is no faith at all.

So when someone asks, “where is God?”, the answer is that He is seen through the actions of His people.

Do you have a faith that matters? A faith that is strong enough to influence your actions?

A faith that is not strong enough to influence one’s actions is no faith at all.


  1. Well written Greg! By coincidence, I have a page by exactly the same title! …….Keep on Blogging for God!

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