Peace can be found in the earthquake psalm

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, June 02, 2006

In the May 5, 1906 issue of Colliers Weekly, Jack London wrote the following:

“San Francisco is gone! Nothing remains of it but memories and a fringe of dwelling homes on the outskirts. Its industrial section is wiped out.

“Its social and residential section is wiped out. The factories and warehouses, the great stores and newspaper buildings, the hotels and the palaces of the nabobs, are all gone.

“On Wednesday morning at a quarter past five came the earthquake. A minute later, the flames were leaping upward.

“In a dozen different quarters south of Market Street, in the working class ghetto, and in the factories, fires started.

“There was no opposing the flames. There was no organization, no communication.

“All the cunning adjustments of a 20th century city had been smashed by the earthquake. The streets were humped into ridges and depressions and piled with debris of fallen walls.

“All the shrewd contrivances and safeguards of man had been thrown out of gear by 30 seconds’ twitching of the Earth’s crust.”

Now, a century later, we’re taking time to look back to that titanic twitch and wonder when — not if — the big one will arrive.

Experts tell us California isn’t the only earthquake alley on this continent. The Mississippi River area has a big fault. Some eastern cities are vulnerable as are other heavily populated places.

There are between 2,500 and 10,000 tremors a day on this fidgety planet, reminding us of the words of our Lord: “There will be earthquakes in various places,” Matthew 24:7.

Paul compared our shaky planet to a woman having labor pains and about to give birth. During the hours of travail, as the birth approaches, her pains increase in frequency and severity.

In context, his comparison has to do with time’s steady march toward the day of resurrection, calling for the future to hold a whole lot of shaking going on.

Life holds many experiences that have the power to shake us up. Most of us go through things we didn’t think we would and some go through things they didn’t think they could.

Personal earthquakes can be more damaging than those that cause buildings to fall and streets to buckle. Fiery trials, as the Bible calls them, burn as deeply and painfully as fires shown in television news reports of earthquake damage.

In preparation for these individual twitching times, we’ve been given the 46th Psalm:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea,” Psalm 46:1-2.

The key to finding peace in our shaking times is found in eight words appearing near the end of this set of 11 faith-building verses: “Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10.

No God, no peace.

Know God, know peace.

Those who hide in God, finding their strength in him, are prepared for every storm and shaking season life brings their way.

Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.

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