if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm11:3)

Tearfund’s Disaster Team are warning that Nepal’s largest earthquake for 80 years – which struck early on Saturday – ‘is likely to be our worst earthquake scenario: a “perfect-storm” disaster’.

The 7.9 magnitude quake, which was centred between the capital Kathmandu and Nepal’s second largest city Pokhara, has brought down many buildings. Tearfund is treating it as ‘cross-border’ disaster for its impact in India also. So far more than 2,000 deaths have been reported.

‘The geography – the mountainous roads – mean supplies will require air-lifting in, generating a massive cost in helping remote communities,’ said Oenone Chadburn, Tearfund’s Head of Humanitarian Support.

The above is copied from the Tearfund website (www.tearfund.org), posted on 25 April. By Thursday 30 April it was reported that more than 5,000 people had been killed by this disastrous earthquake.

The seventh edition of Operation World in 2010 reported that Nepal was, ‘One of the world’s poorest countries, with around one-third of the people living below the poverty line.’ Landlocked, geographically isolated with difficult terrain and poor infrastructure Nepal was already a nation facing great challenges which will only have been magnified by this earthquake.

Please support the appeal for aid for Nepal at this time. You can give through Tearfund – www.tearfund.org/give/nepal_earthquake/or through the Disasters Emergency Committee of which Tearfund is a member – www.dec.org.uk

How should we reflect biblically and theologically upon such a tragedy?

Romans 8.18-25 declare the good news to us, a good news of God’s purpose to renew and restore all creation. We are not dismayed when such disasters strike because we know that until the fullness of God’s renewal and restoration all creation will groan and travail. Such disasters are not signs of God’s absence, nor of God’s uncaring attitude towards his world. By no means!

Rising again from the grave the feet of the risen Lord Jesus hit the dusty roads of Palestine. In the resurrection the Lord Jesus was not transported to some other-worldly sphere of existence. The presence of his risen body in this creation together with the great promise of God to bring all creation together in one renewed and redeemed celebration of his creative purpose gives us hope when the foundations are destroyed, when the earth shakes. The day will come when the lion will lie together with the lamb, when the earth will quake no more. We live in hope and expectation of that day.

Until that day, while creation groans, while we groan, while the Spirit groans within us, until that day we are to serve God in his mission of grace and reconciliation.

Such disasters are a renewed call to prayer. Yes, to pray for the provision of aid, the comfort of the bereaved and injured, the safety of aid workers. But also to pray, to enter the living presence of the living God and depend upon him. We cannot stop such earthquakes, but we can through Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit live in the presence of God. Do we pray like this? Do we live like this? Apart from the presence of God our foundations will always be shaken.

Such disasters are a renewed call to generous living. The declaration of the gospel is not a call for everyone who believes to be as poor as they can be. It is a call for everyone who believes to be as generous as they can be. Generous living is sacrificial – if it doesn’t hurt to give then it isn’t sacrificial. Generous living is for others – ‘So let us learn how to how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him, each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving’. As we reflect on this point let’s ask if we have become trapped in our must have possession driven culture to the harm of our must give Kingdom of God inspired culture? How can we follow the King who gave everything for us if we keep as much as we can for ourselves?

Such disasters are a call for humble thanksgiving. In our sadness at such suffering can we not ask the Lord to open our eyes to his work in Nepal? Can we not give thanks for the churches in Nepal, 2.85% of the population, some 850.000 brothers and sisters (figures from Operation World 2010). What acts of kindness, of generosity, of grace are they engaged in today? What beautiful displays of the fruit of the Spirit is growing in their lives as they serve our Father in this disaster? What of the many Christian brothers and sisters now serving in Nepal: food specialists, engineers, medical staff, support staff, folks who can put up a tent. God doesn’t need to have a disaster to display his love in the world, but when one comes along through his church God does once again show us how much he loves us.

Romans 5.8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. The love of God shown in his response to our suffering as sinners in the suffering of Christ. Today in Nepal the love of God is being displayed in response to our sufferings in the service of Christ’s church. Should we not give thanks for this?

Please support the appeal for aid for Nepal: