Christchurch Earthquake|Personal Report:”The Faith factor”

Christchurch earthquake

Christchurch earthquake image

I have experienced a few earth tremors and minor quakes before, one in England and a few on this side of the world but this was the first “real earthquake”, and at 7.1 on the Richter scale, a historic one for New Zealand.

The earthquake struck the city in the early hours of Saturday 4 September (2 days ago at time of writing), with the epicentre 30 km away near Darfield. We live in the north west part of the City and different parts have been affected in different ways. What is amazing is we personally, and our relatives, are (at present) completely unscathed and most of the city seems to have “gotten off pretty lightly”.

We had all gone to bed fairly late. In the wee hours of the morning I felt our bed shaking like somebody with a huge hand was playing with it.

“Earthquake! Quick-get out of bed!” yelled my wife. I was seriously tempted to go on sleeping because I was so tired but the continued shaking and rolling movement convinced me that this was not an option and that this was definitely more serious than the occasional minor earth tremor which this country gets from time to time. We yelled at the kids to get out of bed and stand under the door frames, as we had heard somewhere this was the sensible thing to do.

Ours is a wooden house with wooden cladding, as are many of the houses in Canterbury. I have always complained about the poor heating qualities of the older Kiwi wooden, ramshackle bungalows, comparing them to the seemingly easier-to-heat brick houses of the U.K and other places I’ve lived, but now I was thanking God for our wooden house as they are apparently much better at withstanding the jerking movement of an earthquake than some other buildings made of brick. Early settlers here apparently built many of their houses the English way with brick and plaster thrown up against it:many of those houses have collapsed in this earthquake

credit:the Press

After what seemed a long time, but was probably no more than 45 seconds to a minute or so, the shaking subsided and the rolling motion decreased to the occasional murmur. I by now was praying with the family rather energetically and reminded God of His promises to us – Psalm 91 particularly, and I felt after some time that the worst was over, and told my wife I was going back to bed. The rest of the family followed suit. We noticed that the power was down so could not get any news updates.

The morning dawned as a brilliant, sunny Spring day (another blessing) and I got a message from a work colleague concerned about our welfare. Two of our neighbours lost their brick chimneys in the night but it seemed the only thing that we lost was sleep. Praise the Lord!

I took a drive into other parts of the city adjoining our area and it seems some businesses and houses were not so fortunate. But ,for a 7.1 earthquake, the citizens of Canterbury seemed to have a lot to be thankful for, when you compare it to e.g the earthquake in Haiti. Only two people -so far that I am aware of -have been admitted to hospital with serious injuries, and most of the damage to the central City occurred when most people were in their beds-otherwise the casualties would have been more.

One of the scriptures that immediately came to mind and that we prayed, while all this was going on was:

Psalm 91 : He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand.  I will say of the Lord He is my refuge and my fortress…You shall not be afraid of the terror by night nor of the arrow that flies by day…nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday…A thousand may fall at you right hand and ten thousand at your left hand, but it will not come near you…because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place…”

Is God the cause of Earthquakes or is it something else?

People will have many different explanations for what causes earthquakes, usually based on the natural realm and natural reasoning. I am sure they are valid but I will leave you to read those in the secular news and technical journals. I am one of those who happen to believe that the spiritual realm actually controls what we see with our five senses, so I always look for spiritual significance and pointers in natural events.

God seems to get a bad rap when it comes to natural disasters.  Bad things do happen- to good and bad people-the Bible itself specifically predicts that one of the signs of the last days is earthquakes. There have always been earthquakes but they seem to be increasing worldwide in scope and intensity.

God is a Deliverer from trouble not the cause of the trouble.
God is A Savior and Deliverer from trouble, the Bible reveals, not the cause of the trouble. The Bible states that as a result of sin (when was the last time you heard anyone talk about that?)the earth itself is under a curse (Genesis 1). It seems this curse has yet to be revoked. It seems a more serious curse is that which comes on those who rely on their works to justify themselves-“the curse of the law” (i.e the Law of Moses, but it applies to any law that men rely on for justification). Jesus has redeemed us from that curse and we have access to the “blessing” -how? By our good deeds? Certainly not.

Receive what you need by faith

Yet most religions teach that you get on “God’s good side” by good works. The Bible teaches the opposite-you cannot be justified in and of yourself -“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses (all those things we do that we think justify us in the sight of God) are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of a holy God. By faith-and faith alone-do we receive from God His justification, His provision, in fact the whole salvation package-whether it is the redemption He offers through faith in His Son or the other aspects of salvation.  And that faith is NOT form ourselves-so we can’t boast!

The original word for “salvation” is “soso“-which includes the concept of deliverance from danger. It was that aspect of my personal salvation that I “Claimed” in prayer last night, it was that aspect that kept many safe last night in Christchurch;and it is faith in God that gives me confidence that tonight and tomorrow we will be fine-even with aftershocks happening even as I write this!;it is this faith that can get you through YOUR earthquake experience, dear reader, whether it is is a physical earthquake or some other upheaval that life brings your way.

Are earthquakes going to increase in the world, someone may ask? I don’t know , but Matthew 24 shows that they will definitely be a feature of the “last days”. But whether you live near the “ring of fire” or not, the likelihood of you encountering some kind of disaster in life is quite high. The question is :who or what are you going to call on when it hits. Napoleon Hill? Some Guru? Or God? An Australian preacher Jeff Crabtree was preaching at our church on Sunday and he made a prophetic declaration that the recent earthquake will result in great prosperity coming to Christchurch. He said there was an “open heaven” that you can sense over this city. What he meant, for the uninitiated, is that there are many churches and believers (not just pew-sitters) in this City and the combined prayers make it easy for miraculous things to happen. Even the mayor declared it “An absolute miracle” .

Faith in an Earthquake

Consider the following indications of blessing already observable after the Christchurch earthquake:
*there have been NO riots or civil unrest to speak of -like there have been in other cities hit by earthquakes
*In The recent Haiti earthquake over 200 000 died;in the recent Chile earthquake hundreds died;in Christchurch, as far as I know, there has been NOBODY who died in the earthquake.
*the country, a small country, has not had to go to the U.N with pleas of help. Don Brash, the former National leader said on T.V that because of some kind of national earthquake levy, there is more than enough to pay the clean-up bill
*people are reaching out to their neighbors and where there’s a need you find someone is reaching out already to meet it;on Sunday another church shared our church building because their facility is located in the City area -where most of the damage to buildings is. There was a great atmosphere as people who previously did not know each other ,or hardly ever met together, now fellowshipped together in unity.

Ask God to be Your Defender
What is the reason for the difference in result between the Christchurch earthquake and other earthquakes? (apart from the fact that maybe NZ has a building code in place whereas some countries do not). Jeff Crabtree made this interesting observation :”You can’t have a prosperous outcome (after a 7.1 earthquake) unless, like you, you have been singing “God Defend New Zealand” (referring to the New Zealand National anthem). We don’t sing about that in our (Australian) national anthem:we sing about our mineral wealth and our beautiful landscape…Every time you sing your National anthem God is listening. When you sing that, God backs that -you don’t need the U.S army to come and help you”. I would say from where I am sitting God has done what generations of Kiwis have knowingly or unknowingly asked for: He has defended Christchurch.  A city of churches, but-more importantly-a place where faith exists. Religion won’t get the job done. You need to make a faith connection if you want to see results. When I prayed Psalm 91 I wasn’t doing it FEARfully (although I was agitated to a degree) but because I have accustomed myself to seeing results from confessing the Word.

Do you need a place of safety? It’s a NAME you need to call on, not a country or an army to come and defend you. His Name is JESUS. “He who comes to me I shall in no way cast out” (Jn 6:37), He says to you. Put your faith in Him today!

John Reason

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3 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Thanks John, this is encouraging.
    Can I share it with my family and friends?

    Regards
    Sue

  2. Of course you can Sue!

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