Thursday, March 17, 2011


"Do you have any idea how powerful God is?

Have you ever heard of a teacher like him?

Has anyone ever had to tell him what to do,

or correct him, saying, 'You did that all wrong!'?

Remember, then, to praise his workmanship,

which is so often celebrated in song.

Everybody sees it;

nobody is too far away to see it.

"Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite,

greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!

Job 36: 22-26 The Message

It has been overwhelming even for us who aren’t even directly affected by human or natural disasters ---people dying for causes and no specific reason. There are a lot of dead ends in our questions and responses to these human tragedies. We see the excitement of people searching for freedom as well as the brutal crushing military responses. We see our technical searches for energy sources become hazards to our global and personal health. We see the great forces of earthquakes and the limits of our preparations and response. Are these mega-disasters or is it just our ability to capture and share the reality with our new information technologies? At one level the individual loss of hope, life and future is a tragedy and a catastrophe. What also seems undeniable is the sheer volume of these tragedies... the definition of a mega-disaster where hope, life and the future is lost for whole countries in this world.

In 1952, J.B. Phillips published the book, “Your God is Too Small”. Despite that book, it appears our God, the God of Abraham and the Son of God, has continued to get smaller! The other observation has been that our counterfeit gods have gotten bigger. One response at this time of Lent is to re-examine, repent and redirect our understanding of who/what we commit our lives too. Maybe our denial of the reality of death means that we have not realized the sacredness of our lives. Maybe our hope has been misplaced on our technology. Maybe our faith has been focused on our idea of freedom when we need to rededicate our lives to service to those who suffer. Maybe we need to find humility and pray for forgiveness when we have come to believe that we are in control.

Like Job, I need to discover again how awesome is our God. That happens for me in the simple experiences of life where we see a God that continues to be present in lives of people of faith. They are a witness to a salvation that brings hope to whole nations of people who have been without hope. This is the mega-God response to mega-disasters. Praise be to God that is bigger than our mega-disasters.


  1. Here is a quote from a sermon at First Presbyterian Church in Spokane given by Daryl Gefken on 2/23/2011. Used with the authors permission.

    “We must connect ourselves with the lives of others...others that we would typically not choose. I believe our compassion grows in relation to its direct contact with suffering. We must find ways of engaging and deeply listening to the stories of others and then finding creative ways to allow those stories to find a larger voice.”

  2. This is a prayer given by Toshi Shimizu at First Presbyterian Church in Spokane on 3/20/11. Used with the authors permission.

    "We think about the tragedy in Japan caused by the earthquake and tsunami. We pray that you will bring hope and healing to those who grieve and suffer pain and sorrow. We ask you to provide those who are homeless, hungry, cold and sick or wounded.
    We remember those who have died and we pray for the families and friends who mourn for the dead. Comfort them.
    We pray for those government and facility workers who have been trying day in day out to fix the damage to the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant and eliminate the radiation leak. Protect them from radiation exposure. Keep them safe. Help them to find the solution.
    Lord, we know you love the people in Japan even though they may not believe in you. You care for them because they too are your precious creations. Thorough this crisis, give them an opportunity to know your love for them.
    Lord, help us to know how we can help. Help us not to forget them so quickly and remind us to keep praying even when the immediate crisis is over. Amen."