We have just made it home from our retreat up in Nagano. Some have wondered where we are/have been in relation to the earthquake. Our home in Hyogo prefecture is quite a bit further south and west from the earthquake zone (north of Kobe, between Kobe and Osaka). This map shows the areas where the earthquake and tsunami hit. You can see it running up the coast from Tokyo to Sendai and the northern part of the main Honshu island. We were staying west and a bit north of Tokyo over the last five days, in the same prefecture as the later earthquake that happened.
I have found myself at times fragmenting my thinking and emotions. It is too painful to let my heart dwell on the pain of so many people.
Yesterday morning at the retreat our friend Scott Shaum shared, and then we took communion together. He used John 14 as his passage. I was struck by verse 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” As I sat thinking about these words and the results of the earthquake and the tsunami on the people of Japan, I let myself feel. And I started bawling. I could not stop. I let myself feel what I had been trying to contain for two days. I was angry about what has happened, I grieved. My heart physically ached. I did not want to love the people of Japan so much because it hurts too much. It almost felt like too much to bear. And I didn’t want Jesus to tell me not to be troubled!
But I have thought since about the previous words and God’s promise in this verse. He is promising His peace, given in a very different form than the world might give. And I sensed God enter into my pain. I believe He must hurt so much – He knows all of the stories. He loves each of these individuals who have lost loved ones. Who are still searching. Jesus knows the pain of suffering, loss, death. And so we can offer a compassionate and victorious Jesus to those who have suffered so. We are anxious to help meet needs – the physical ones first; and then the peace and love of a living God.
Tomorrow we are meeting with our Sanda/Asian Access friends to pray and talk about the first relief trip Eric and a few of the guys here hope to take soon. We are just hearing first reports back from several missionaries who have run supplies up and returned. We continue to consult with those who are coordinating and ask God for wisdom. We will keep you posted.
Also tomorrow the team from Fourth Pres will be coming to Sanda for a day and a half. We are excited. They will be going to homestays tomorrow night; then helping us prepare for a western dinner for families/students from our community. And in the midst of all of this, Annie graduates on Wednesday! Some full days ahead.