Those are not the words of one of the thousands of family members whose lives have been devastated by the upheaval of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. Although they could be.
Those are the words of lament from a father 3000 years ago (Job 3:25) who lost not just one, but all 10 of his children and their families who were snuffed out when a microburst of wind collapsed the home they were in (Job 1:18-19). Job’s catastrophic loss of his family was preceded by the pillage of his economic wealth by bands of marauding thieves (Job 1:14-17). Everything that meant anything to him was gone.
Job went on to lament: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:26).
When everything that means anything to you is gone, where do you turn? How do you respond?
As I watched the news feeds on the networks and internet, I struggled to wrap my mind around the surrealistic video of the 30-foot wall of water that seemed to swallow up the land and it’s inhabitants, and then vomit out a grotesque amount of wreckage, destruction and death as it receded back into the ocean. It looked like an eerie CGI movie scene. But this time it wasn’t. It was real. As terrifyingly real as it gets.
Trauma–whether natural or man-made–always leaves a contorted heap of rubble and devastation not only on the physical landscape of our world but also in the hearts and minds of those who live through it. The physical clean up efforts of the land will take years. The emotional, relational, and spiritual wounds will take much longer. And it requires help. Help comes from people who not only care, but those who also have experience and training sorting through the turmoil of their own traumas and who have emerge out of the darkness and into the light of hope again.
But grief is a journey. Not a journey we choose, but one that chooses us.
It’s in those moments when we feel crushed and buried under the rubble of trauma that we can mistakenly believe that grief and pain will forever define us. It won’t. But is sure feels like it. While it shapes and influences the rest of our lives to be sure, it’s not the trauma that defines us. It’s how we respond to it that does.
Jesus knows how trauma messes with us. How it overwhelms us. And how we tend to lose heart when we feel buried (John 16:33). He reminds us that trauma never has the final word. Why? Because he has overcome the world that is overwhelming us.
He invites us to dump our burdens on him and he will help us shoulder the load that’s impossible for us to handle on our own (Matt. 11:28). And, he will provide others who can help us carry the burden that’s too much for us to bear alone (Gal. 6:2).
Please pray. Help bear the unbearable burden by taking the plight of the Japanese people to the God of all comfort who heals the brokenhearted (Isa. 61:1; 2 Cor. 1:3-5). Pray not only for the healing of the land of Japan, but please pray for the healing of her people as they sort through the grief and anguish of their losses and seek to rebuild their wounded souls.