Anyone who has seen the pictures coming from Japan today cannot, I trust, fail to be affected by them. The sheer power of nature unleashed has such a devastating outcome; I for one have been awestruck by the images I have seen, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami.
It's been interesting to read the comments of people on Facebook & Twitter too today. People that I wouldn't have thought of as people of faith have been urging their 'followers' and 'friends' to pray, but then times of disaster and hardship seem to have a tendency to bring out the latent spirituality in people. One only has to look back to the days of the Blitz, or even to the death of Diana, to see that inherent desire to commune with that which is 'beyond' surface in people's consciousness.
What I haven't seen yet are comments 'blaming' God for this disaster, though I'm sure they'll come in some quarters. Isn't it funny (in the strange sense, rather than the amusing sense) that those who seldom give thought to the Almighty do so at such times, either to seek solace or to apportion blame? We seem able to explain so many things in scientific terms these days, rather than resort to the language of faith, religion or superstition which have sufficed in the past - unless it happens to be something huge, and then God gets a look in, for good or ill.
Where is God in all this? More likely than not in the rubble of destroyed livelihoods, in the tears of the grieving, in the hopelessness of those facing the on-coming tide, rather than in the destructive waves themselves, and the shaking of foundations and buildings. Paul reminds us through his words to the church in Rome that 'the whole creation has been groaning', waiting for God's purposes to be fulfilled. As we reflect on today's events, and those of Christchurch not so long ago, as well as the political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, we see and hear that groaning and, perhaps, cry out for God to hear the cries of God's creation and have mercy upon us.