Charles Wohlforth wrote an excellent opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News on how in light of the 1964 earthquake where 131 lives were lost, we should be thankful because of the scientists and engineers who have designed our infrastructure in Alaska in such a way that it served as one of the most important pieces as to why there were no lives lost during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit last Friday morning. You can read his article in its entirety here: Wohlforth Article.
Now this post is not to undermine Wohlforth’s article, as the writer believes that Wohlforth is spot on that the efforts of scientists and structural engineers to help develop technology and infrastructure to endure such sizable quakes is a major reason why there was such little damage overall and no loss of life. And as such, the efforts of those men and women deserve recognition and thanks. The goal of this brief thread however is to argue that their is Someone who is far more the reason why there was no loss of life on Friday and that therefore, He is deserving of our full thanks. Along with thanking the scientists and engineers, our hearts ought to pour out in thanks to God.
God is absolutely sovereign over natural disaster and over life. We are told in the Bible that the creation is subject to futility, and that it “groans with the labors of childbirth” as it awaits the return of its Maker to finally free it from its subjection to the fall (Rom. 8:19-22). One of the ways we see the futility of creation and its “groaning” is in natural disaster, but God is absolutely sovereign over these disasters when they occur. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isa. 45:7). Yet, in his sovereignty He chose to raise up an earthquake while at the same time choosing to preserve life.
Oh my friend do not miss how significant this reality is. As humans we grow so numb to frailty and beauty of life. We get so caught up in our petty arguments over who voted for who, and what side of the aisle you sit on. We get in our petty Facebook quibbles and Twitter wars, and we forget just how beautiful life is and how quickly it can be taken. Yet, look at what happens when natural disaster occurs. Look at the way people immediately began banning together to help one another. No-one asks if you’re a Republican or Democrat, what your views are on this matter or that, we simply help because deep down (no matter how much we might reject it) we know that that person is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27), and that we are indeed called to be our “brother’s keeper.” I believe there are many reasons that God sends natural disaster: To remind us that His Son is going to return to fully and forever redeem and renew His creation, to remind us of the importance of “numbering our days” (Ps. 90:12), and to remind us that we are all made in the image of God and therefore should love one another as ourselves” (MK. 12:31).
But there is one more reason I believe God sends natural disasters, and I believe that this is the most important reason. In 2 Chronicles 7 we read, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (13,14).
Beloved Christians, natural disaster is a reminder for us to pray for the people that are affected by the natural disaster that they would turn away from their sins and towards the God of heaven and be saved.” Perhaps what happened Friday might just shake us into a revival, if God should so sovereignly choose. So yes, I am thankful for the scientists, and the engineers, and the state leadership, and the first responders, but the greatest reason there was no loss of life on Friday from the earthquake, and that we were spared one more day is because the God who is sovereign over the storm and life chose to wake us up and remind us what matters without taking a life in the process. Oh how I thank the God of heaven. Let us pray it awakens us as a city, state, and nation to the truth of the saving Sovereign God of Heaven.