The words of Psalm 46 may come to mind as we think of the many who suffer in earthquake-stricken Nepal.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
One of the certainties of life is that life is full of uncertainty. No one knows when he or she might fall sick, or have an auto accident, or witness a natural catastrophe—be it fire, flood, or earthquake. Such was the case in Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at 11:56 AM a few days ago. This was a day of worship for many Nepalese churches, and so people were together. Thankfully, many church buildings are simple structures with tin roofs, but there have been some casualties. One church near the capital of Kathmandu saw 70 worshippers killed when their building collapsed.
A friend of mine in Nepal who is a Christian leader reported today:
“Eight million people have been affected and many have become homeless, parentless and widowed. My heart cries when I see people desperate, watch the news and see the television reports. There is a shortage of food, water and tents to sleep in. Almost 90% people of Kathmandu are sleeping on the street and in open spaces, but very few have got tents. Markets, banks, transportation and business houses are closed.”
“Though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea.” That is how the Psalmist describes the uncertainty of life. People in Nepal have seen the earth shake underneath them, and other people in other parts of the world have their lives changed by terrorism, or crime, or illness. “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall.”
This is when people turn to God. It is a time when that righteous prayer that Jesus taught comes to mind: “Lord, have mercy.”
What protection do we have in such a dangerous world? Where can we go where we will be safe?
Psalm 46 contrasts the experience of earthquakes and plagues and wars with the fortress that is God: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” This statement recalls Jerusalem, but not as a walled city. There are no walls high enough or strong enough to prevent bad things from happening. Protection comes from God himself. He is the “refuge and strength,” the “ever-present help,” the “fortress.”
We cannot be glib about this. Or cliche. Or sanctimonious. It is easy to ponder the words of Psalm 46 when we’re sitting in a comfortable place, relatively free of worry of an earthquake. Yet the words are true. It is time to turn to God, all of us, for he is the refuge.
The people of Nepal deserve our prayers. And our help. We must not forget them as they live one long day after another, with many months of recovery ahead.
For more details on the situation on the ground, go HERE.