The horrific scenes this week in Japan remind us of our place in nature. We like to believe that we are the centre of the universe, but the Shinto belief that the spirits of nature have little regard for humanity seem more credible today.
For me, the duty of faith is to respond to such disasters in the most practical way possible. If we can help, we must act with any resources available to us. I have little time for those who say 'If God exists, how could God allow such a thing to happen?'. Earthquakes, Tsunami's (in inself a Japanese word, as they are well used to this natural phenomenon) are part of creation. It is how the earth is formed. To deny that these natural occurrences should happen is as ridiculous as denying evolution, or refusing to accept humanities role in climate change.
Nature is wonderful, it is powerful, and it can also be destructive. We cannot hold God to blame for this, we cannot ask God to 'not allow this to happen'.
Jesus talked about this in the story of the 'Good Samaritan'. The response Jesus hopes for is not for us to ask 'Why did God allow this man to be left half for dead?', but for us to muck in and help the one who is suffering.
We cannot change or prevent the earth's crust moving and forming, but we can change and improve our responses to those caught up in the dreadful aftermath. We can also avoid building Nuclear power stations near fault lines.
Support any Japanese friends you have (and New Zealanders for that matter), hold the region in your prayers, and let us find real ways of discovering God's presence, not by blaming him, but by consoling and practically helping those who are suffering.