THE TIPPING POINT

There always is a tipping point, that moment when everything inside your head reaches critical mass and you withdraw from the cacophony around you, suddenly focusing on the mayhem in a way you haven’t so far and reality distills down to a single point.

Somewhere around 12:30 AM ET on Friday, I made one last round of the different websites I had open to check the latest headlines and stats I use in monitoring natural disasters. I had put in a full day on Thursday and my nice warm bed was beckoning, promising me warmth, sleep and a taste of heaven. It was not to be.

Glancing quickly at CNN, my eye caught the breaking headline of an earthquake in Japan — M7.9, different sources said. I’ve tracked earthquakes for several years now and a M7.9 in Japan is certainly noteworthy, but not cause for complete panic, depending on where it was centered. I checked the clock and realised less than 45 minutes had passed since the event. Quickly moving over to the USGS Earthquake Hazard Program’s Latest Earthquakes List, one look told me that it was no M7.9. The USGS colour codes their major earthquakes. Some 70 minutes into the event, I was looking at seven earthquakes all with magnitudes of 6.3 or greater, any one of which would have been a major event in Japan on any other day. About the same time, I  began tracking the tsunami warnings that were being issued to various parts of the Pacific. The magnitude of the initial earthquake was raised to a M8.8. then later to a M8.9.

It is like watching a Chinese fire drill. The adrenalin rush hits and you are in hyper-space.

For over 24 hours, I typed faster than I have ever typed in my life, constantly checking incoming reports from the tsunami, the earthquakes, media coverage after the tsunami’s arrival in the various locations, checking video clips, analysing, checking the various responding/reporting agencies, like the IAEA, JMA, JAEA, ReliefWeb, CIDI. The avalanche of information started pouring in along with the inevitable confusion of the agency sites reporting one thing and the news agencies reporting something different.

Once the tsunami reached northern Chile and appeared to be less than a 2 meter run-up in most places, I finally caught a couple of hours sleep, then prepared for Shabbat. I was to make a presentation to our congregation regarding the information last available to me at 8:00 AM ET, some 31 hours after the event. It wasn’t good. Devastation in Japan that looked a lot like Sumatra in 2004, with the probability of five nuclear reactors compromised at two nuclear power plants, numerous fires which could not be effectively battled in places, and new aftershocks averaging one every 8.8 minutes. I left for shul with a heavy heart.

When I returned, there had been nearly 50 more quakes of M4.5 and above, including four at M6.0 – M6.9 level, not unusual for an initial earthquake of this magnitude, but still not good. Every aftershock compounds the damage that has already occurred and creates new damage in structures and infrastructure that have reached the limits of its ability to withstand more shaking. New fires, new gas leaks, new damage to nuclear reactors. Every time there is a new aftershock, people have to stop their rescue efforts and seek safety. For many aftershocks, there is the threat of new localised tsunamis which can be deadly.

By Sunday afternoon, the nuclear power plants at Onagawa and Tokai had added to the reactors being monitored in the news. Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 1 was thought to have experienced a meltdown and there were some reports of 10 meters of the core rods being exposed, which would mean they were not covered by coolant. Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 3 may have also experienced at least a partial meltdown. Fukushima Daini, located about 7 miles away, seemed to be following a similar path, albeit not as quickly. Onagawa nuclear power plant reported a first state of emergency. Kyodo News announced that the cooling pumps at the Tokai nuclear power plant had stopped.

STILL SMALL VOICE

There is always a place in large disasters, even for people who track and monitor them, when the cacophony just becomes too much and their minds withdraw. You can only move so fast for so long, even with copious amounts of food, caffeine, and sugar. The withdrawal is a safety mechanism. We can only take in so much input at any given time and when we exceed capacity, our mind will involuntarily step back to a point where we can take it in.

This afternoon, in the midst of the additional concerns at the Tokai nuclear power plant, a song started niggling at the corners of my mind — first as white noise, then adding words. “Even so, even so, even so Yeshua come! All creation cries for the returning of our King. Come and take Your place on Your Throne Jerusalem.”

It is not enough that we look at the Scripture from which these lyrics come, we should look at the greater passage of Romans 8:18 — 30 (emphasis added), which talks about us moving from the suffering of this world to the glory of the world to come.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

The groaning is not limited to our souls and our emotions. The earth groans also.

It is said that we hear the earthquakes before we feel them. There is such a sound that comes from out of the ground that it is unmistakable. Nothing else sounds like it. The sound is such a primal groaning, that even recordings on lower volumes can be disturbingly frightening.

We can run and take shelter from tornadoes and hurricanes, but where do we run from something that comes from the ground? There is no place to go and nothing to do but ride it out.

In a typical earthquake that would last about 15 seconds. Most of the stories I have heard or read about earthquakes of M8.0 and above tell of violent ground shaking and rolling for a full 8 to 10 minutes without any let up. Every M6.0 and above makes it difficult to stay in one place, tossing people and debris around, renewing the fears and danger. At this writing, Japan has experienced those kinds of events 33 times in 60 hours plus a devastating tsunami and several smaller local tsunamis born of the aftershocks. It is impossible for anyone’s mind to grasp.

The sounds of the earthquakes, the hurricanes, the tsunamis and the tornadoes are the groanings of the earth waiting to be redeemed, waiting for the day when we will be made whole by our Creator.

Every time we see events like those happening in Japan, we groan inwardly, we desperately want it to end. But we know that even when the shaking stops, even when the sea no longer overruns the earth, it is only calm for a time, for a season. Somewhere, sometime in the future, it will start again.

We do not walk through events like these alone. G-d walks with us, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in ways beyond our understanding. It all works for good for those us who love G-d and walk with Him.

Countless people have died in Japan over the last three days. More will follow. We should pray for them unceasingly, interceding that G-d would spare their nation and give them the wisdom to do whatever is necessary to preserve lives and prevent more damage, especially at the nuclear reactors. We should ask that He put a hedge of protection around them and send His ministering, guardian and warring angels to tend to their needs and fight for them.

But more than this, we should recognise that what we are seeing, as frightening and overwhelming as it can be, is more evidence that Yeshua, indeed, is coming back. In Aramaic, our prayer is to be Maranatha! which can be translated as Come, L-rd!

— J. E. Clark | 13 March 2011

EVEN SO – (Sung by Paul Wilbur)

You are welcome in this place,
Be enthroned upon our praises,
May our worship rise like incense
As we magnify the Son.
Mighty God of Israel,
You’re the Lamb upon the throne;
All blessing and honour
To our God forevermore.

Even so, even so,
Even so, Yeshua come.
All creation cries
For the returning of our King;
Come and take Your place
On Your Throne Jerusalem!

We join our hearts together,
We come in one accord,
The bonds of peace unite us
In the Spirit of the Lord.
You’ll clothe us with salvation,
In robes of purest white,
We’re the body of Messiah,
We are precious in Your sight.

Even so, even so,
Even so, Yeshua come.
All creation cries
For the returning of our King;
Come and take Your place
On Your Throne Jerusalem.

And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”
And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”
To the Lion and the Lamb,
Heaven’s King, the great “I Am.”
Come and take Your place
On Your throne Jerusalem!

Even so, even so,
Even so, Yeshua come.
All creation cries
For the returning of our King;
Come and take Your place
On Your Throne Jerusalem!

Come and take Your place
On Your throne Jerusalem!

Come and take Your place
On Your throne Jerusalem!

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