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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Now We Need a Miracle: May We Unite in Prayer for Japan

Tonight my heart was pained over what is happening in Japan. I've begun praying more earnestly for the people in Japan, a wonderful country where there are many sweet and courageous people, including friends of mine, fellow Mormons, fellow Christians, fellow engineers, fellow bloggers, fellow sushi fans, fellow photographers, fellow innovation geeks, fellow jokesters, fellows of all kinds, and they are in deep trouble. We're at the point where miracles are needed. Real miracles.

After praying, I flipped open the Book of Mormon randomly. The verses my eyes turned to gave me a jolt. My eyes fell upon Helaman 12:11--that very verse. Here are verses 11-13:
[11] Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake;

[12] Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.

[13] Yea, and if he say unto the earth -- Move -- it is moved.
This got my attention--hopefully, though, in the sense of pointing out the Power who can gently shake things the right way to provide needed help for the current crists. The context of the chapter is a reminder of God's desire to save us, and of the painfully extreme means that He must sometimes use to shake us out of our complacency that we might repent and turn again to Him. More from Helaman 12:
[2] Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One -- yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

[3] And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.

[4] O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!

[5] Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom's paths!

[6] Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.

[7] O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.

[8] For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.

[9] Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake.

[10] And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley.

[11] Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake;

[12] Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.

[13] Yea, and if he say unto the earth -- Move -- it is moved.

[14] Yea, if he say unto the earth -- Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours -- it is done;

[15] And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.

[16] And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep -- Be thou dried up -- it is done....

[23] Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved.

[24] And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works.

[25] And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord;

[26] Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.
In no way do I wish to suggest that this disaster is punishment upon Japan. It is a disaster that affects the whole world, the kind of afflictions and terror that occurs from time to time across the entire globe and over all the centuries. It's part of mortality, with bad things happening to good people all the time. These tragedies can be tools, though, to humble us and remind us of our mortality and our weakness and of our need for God.

Helaman 11 reminds us of God's real power. He can make the earth move if He wishes. He can make the waters move. With that power, He can certainly move things in a way that will help the Japanese people avert the nuclear nightmare they now face. Is a little miraculous assistance now too much to ask for? Is it too much for us to plead with the Lord and point to the courage and goodness the Japanese people have shown in the midst of this disaster, to point to their great needs, and to please for special help for them, even as we prepare to do more on our own to help from afar? If we unite in prayer, can we not hope for miracles to avert the terror before them now?

It may be too much to ask since far worse things have befallen other good peoples around the globe and continue to afflict them. Floods, earthquakes, famines, plagues, war have ravaged many, and we must not forget the former unspeakable horror we poured upon Japan with the fury of two nuclear weapons on civilian populations at the close of World War II. Mortal life can be brutal, and we knew this would be part of the ride even as we rejoiced at creation of the earth (Job 38:7) and at the prospect of coming here. We're all going to die, but thanks to Christ we're all going to live and this mortal drama will end in victory over the grave, and if we let Him, we'll have victory over sin and spiritual death as well. But for now, we must be concerned with our fellow mortals and their needs.

Japan needs our prayers and help. The carnage in Libya right now also deserves our prayers and help, and so it is in many nations. Perhaps if we learn to unite in prayer and deed to bless others more fervently, to plead with God for extra help among many nations and peoples in need, including those we are close to here at home, we can see little and big miracles occur, and be guided to find better ways to make a difference with our own lives. We need more prayer, and perhaps we'll be able to see more miracles. Maybe not the big ones we want to read in headlines, but at least the small ones where souls are touched and God's greatest works are done. But a few headlines of miraculous good news would be welcome now, and I think I'll keep praying for that.

5 comments:

michelle said...

I've been feeling that desire to pray more earnestly for these people, too. Thanks for your thoughts, Jeff.

Joy Valentine said...

Jeff,
I'm serving as an LDS Missionary for the church in Nashville Tennessee. We did not hear about the Earthquake right away, but we have been praying for those people who's lives have been affected.
Thank you for pointing out the the Earthquake was not a punishment for Japan. When disasters happen, the world is made more aware of the tragedies in life. It allows us to unite as a human body in prayer for strength from our Father in Heaven. Though we read in Helaman that they happen when wickedness overpowers children, we must be ready to teach people that regardless of the reasons for tragedies, we still have a Heavenly Father who loves us.

Thank you for your blog! It is very inspiring!
Sister Valentine

Mateo said...

@joy,
Whoah! You guys have internet access during your missions? Nice! Things have changed a bit since I was on mine it would seem. :P

Jeff, yeah. This whole situation is pretty horrible. While I don't believe that prayer has any impact I'm definitely donating what I can to the Red Cross. Are there other good charities (other then the churches humanitarian aide program) that you've come across or anyone else for that matter. My heart really goes out to the brave people over there that are involved in rescue efforts. Wish there was more I could do.

Mateo said...

D'oh. That should have been "church's" instead of "churches". :P

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your choice words about Japan; it is where I served my mission many decades ago, and I am no longer in touch with people I dearly love there--

my heart has been heavy, and I have been praying continuously for them--

I also found it interesting that, while I couldn't locate my journal immediately, I was able to remember so many by name--

I even prayed that I could remember the names, after being unable to find the journal, and when my journal with the names was found, I rejoiced to see that the names were correct.

These people are some of the finest in the world, and I suppose I am prejudiced towards them; they certainly don't need to be punished any more than anyone else in the world, though I don't think God thinks in those terms.

But 13 days later, the horror has not ended, and it is hard not to feel helpless, in spite of the prayers--

old Japanese missionary