By Cindy Koch –
The earth rumbled and softened underfoot. My eyes spun back and forth, watching the light fixtures sway back and forth. The windows rattled; the streets groaned. It took me just a minute to realize what was happening. Suddenly sick to my stomach, still trying to gain my balance, I braced myself for the next wave of quakes. There was no telling how many more were coming or how severe it was. All I knew was that I was in the middle of an earthquake.
That short little jolt reminded me just where I was. Living in southern California, where sunshine and beaches make up most of my days. But every now and again, God’s incredible creation shakes and quivers. We are given perspective again: the mountains and the seas, the heavens and the earth, trees and rocks, stars and sun. We are reminded of His majesty; we remember how small and insignificant our own footsteps have been.
Yet this grand revelation is received by different people in very different ways. Fear strikes the hearts of many who totter in the middle of such a tremble, just as the world is shaken sober when any natural disaster breaks into our everyday. Floods, Tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, famine and fire. Fear of death, fear of the future, fear to lose the life we have built for ourselves, fear of final separation from the ones we love. The ancient and magnificent earth can toss us into deep terror, because here we know its destruction is out of our control.
But not even the earth longs for such destruction and death. Water was meant to give and sustain life, not kill those who depend on it. Sunshine was meant to warm the earth, not scorch and burn the plants and people who dwell there. Heavens and earth were put in their place, not to crumble and fall on the beloved creations of the Creator. But she groans, our earth, with the pains of childbearing. Only a few can hear that she is crying out for the same thing we eagerly hope for.
Those who know the story of God, his creation, and his promise to reconcile the earth see and hear what the quaking earth is actually saying. It is not an undesirable result of human induced climate change. It is not an unexpected hiccup in a random universe. It is not something to even be afraid of.
Rather, earthquakes, fires, and floods are the laments of the suffering earth who also waits for redemption. Just as we, broken, exhausted, poor, and miserable cry out at the suffering that is part of our path before our rest. The end of our story is eternal life and peace with the Creator himself. The end of the earth’s story is beauty, where death and decay will not abide. At the end of God’s story, heaven and earth, creatures from the hand of God, will be restored.
But today, when the mountains quake and melt into the sea, we will not be afraid. But those who don’t know God’s promises, who haven’t heard the story of a redeeming savior, they will be afraid. The very important difference is hope. This hope endures every earthquake, tornado, hurricane, drought, famine, and fire. This hope is our peace in the middle of every disaster.
Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Psalm 46:2-3