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Monday, March 14, 2011

Surviving a Spiritual Tsunami

Wondering what we’d have to do to stay safe if a real life tsunami were to hit—given that we’d have to be coastally located—and the only worthy protection would be to climb to higher ground; that which is also sturdy enough not be swept away.

This is actually a terrifying thought.

Anyone who’s seen the opening chapters of Hereafter (2010) will have some concept of what power the water surge carries with it. Holding on would be little good, for the flow would continue longer than we could keep our breath, besides we’d be susceptible to being hit by items flowing with force toward and past us.

Letting go would also be forlorn because all sorts of unknown hazards lurk, and we’d be travelling with the water’s flow faster than we could think or respond.

A terrifying thought is also a reality that we’d be completely out of control. When we imagine such physical energy and force we’re quickly reminded just how vulnerable we are, and just how big God is.

Spiritual Allusions to Tsunamis

Our spiritual lives are also susceptible to being swept away with the flow of fear throughout life, for fear is normal, but overwhelming fear—for most of us—is just a distant threat.

Life would need to turn dramatically and unexpectedly against us. At times it does. There’s always the threat.

Losses in life throw us into spiritual crises. Often we’re forced to review our spiritual bases, as we cling to, or repel, God—after the shock has worn off.

Many, many people—when thrust into hellish situations—run hard away from God, because they rationalise that, “How could a loving God do such things to me?”

Their hurt polarises them.

It seems the natural response, but it—as a response—is a ticket to an even worse degree of hell, if that could possibly be conjured.

Finding Higher Spiritual Ground

Loss is one obvious example of causation where the spiritual crisis approaches and attends. But there are also others, including unseemly anxiety.

The cause is less important than the response is.

Despite our instincts to moan and wail we’re better to think on our feet and just do what’s required to get to higher ground. Like a real tsunami victim, it could be our only chance.

The difference with the spiritual tsunami is God’s grace allows for us to make poor decisions and still have plenty of opportunities to turn around and face life (and God) again. But higher ground is the only way we’ll survive, so we can later thrive again.

The trouble is, and we need to bear this in mind at the time, we’re required to make a sensible decision at a time when all sense for reason has gone out the window.

Still, higher ground is necessary for survival during times when life has become untenable lower down. That safe higher ground is in the lap and will of God. We go there in faith.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Post Script: it is difficult to approach such topics, for the depth of loss suffered by those connected to the Boxing Day 2004 and Japan 2011 tsunamis cannot be measured. We cannot make light of these events and we should also be careful in capitalising on opportunities so as not to use them as springboards for anything insensitive to the victims. My intent here is to honour, somehow, the victims, firstly by highlighting our human vulnerabilities in the midst of such tragedies, and secondly by attempting to resolve what are often seen as insurmountable issues. For, with God, all things are possible (Mark 9:23; 10:27).

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