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Making Sense of the Numbers
 

Earp Takes Aim | Faith, Culture, Life

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Making Sense of the Numbers

The news coming out of Japan is so indescribably beyond description that our minds can’t make sense of what we are reading, hearing and seeing. 

A historically seismic earthquake followed by mountain-sized tsunamis…?  And now, nuclear meltdown— a “bad-news-comes-in-three” combination that has sent Japan careening toward catastrophe. 

The death toll, initially estimated at 1000, has now reached into the tens of thousands.  The economic loss is beyond all calculations.

But here’s the thing:  Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re like me, the sheer pace of these “hits” even as the scope of the loss so stiflingly excessive— I’ve been so overwhelmed I’ve occasionally had to close the paper, shut off my iPad and switch away from the news channels. 

At least that was my response…until Monday. 

That’s when a friend of mine wrote a few simple lines in an email: 

“My mother is desperate to contact any of our family in Japan.  Many of them live on the eastern coast of Japan and up until now, she has been unable to reach anyone.”

All of sudden, my interest in this “news story” became exceedingly personal. 

So personal, I started viewing all the pictures and video with a passion I hadn’t known just hours before.  Instead, with this information, I saw each house that was swept away, as “home” to a real flesh and blood family— much like some families I know and love— whose homes have also been swept away [by a housing market gone amuck].

And I saw each business and commercial building— housing firms that once employed men and women charged with feeding their families…now flattened.  In a way not dissimilar to the flattened employment opportunities which many experience in our part of the world.

However, and this is the one that really captured me, every single lost life was just as precious and dear to their loved ones as Cindy was dear to me and to my family. 

And that’s when the devastation in Japan instantly became personal.  And why my viewing habits suddenly changed.  See, I find myself praying a lot about Japan— for my friend and his family specifically, but for those countless other families, too. 

I also find myself rejoicing with those far too infrequent “miracle” stories— a man rescued from his floating rooftop, a baby found alive beneath the crushing rubble— and I find my heart sinking when the tote board are updated— with numbers that marking those far too frequent stories that didn’t end with a smile, a blanket and a touching embrace. 

I wonder if a similar thing happened to Jesus when He set foot on this ball of dirt?  Although He came precisely because He loved us and because He was moved by our need and because he had been called into action by the will of His Father– as soon as Jesus rubbed shoulders with us humans and cried with us in our pain, it became personal.  So personal that Jesus paid the ultimate price to rescue us from our collective and crushingly pervasive tsunami…called sin. 

It’s so easy for us to shake our head and cluck our tongues at the enormity of the losses in Japan.  Just as it’s also easy to look at the uprisings in Lybia and Egypt and immediately look to the skies and wonder, “Is it time, Lord?”

Meanwhile, the loss Jesus sees isn’t just about prophetic fulfillment; it’s personal and its painful.  It’s not only about His end-time clock slowly tick-tocking its way to another cataclysmic event:  That moment when the clouds split, the angel’s voice sends up a shout, the trumpet gets sounded, graves all across this planet break open, and those of us who are still alive will meet the Lord in the air. 

It IS about that to Jesus.  That…and so much more.

But until then…?  It’s also about the plight of those who suffer; and His desire that you and I— His temporary hands and feet— do whatever we can to alleviate that suffering. 

Jesus takes the loss of each life and the grieving families left behind…personally. 

And so, also, must we.  

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