On the Sunday following the tsunami disaster in Japan I was asked to lead a prayer for the people of Japan. As I prayed about what to pray, three sections of scripture came to mind.
The first was the one I always think about in relation to disasters, found in Luke 13:1-5. Concerning cases involving Pilate killing a number of worshippers and a tower falling on some people in Siloam, Jesus said these things did not happen to those people because they were especially great sinners, but that “except you repent you will all likewise perish.” In other words, these earthly disasters warn of a far worse eternal disaster.
The second was the story of the rich man in Luke 12:16-21 who tore down his barns and built bigger ones to hold his increasing wealth, and who said to himself “take your ease, eat drink and be merry. But God said to him You fool. This night your soul will be required of you and then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” In other words, a successful earthly life is worthless if you are damned.
The third was the account of Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-41 where Martha complained that Mary was not helping her with the preparations but was just sitting at Jesus’ feet. Jesus replied “Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but one thing is needful and Mary has chosen that better part.” The one thing that is needful is salvation in Jesus.
At the time of the earthquake, like the rest of us, millions of Japanese were rushing about their business, worrying about material acquisition, promotion, getting even with someone, or whatever. A few moments later, none of that mattered. Now all that matters for thousands of them is the state of their souls and their relationship with Jesus.
Before disasters, we are usually preoccupied with our earthly affairs and have little time for God. After a disaster, we wonder how God could have let this happen. Perhaps God must allow these disasters as a wake up call for man to realize his precarious state and seek after God. The disasters of this life are bad enough, but nothing in comparison to eternal damnation. If our lives and thoughts are not grounded in faith toward God we are not ready for either this life or the next. One thing is needful.
Proverbs 19:3 says “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.” Don’t let this be your epitaph.