A prayer by John Piper, occasioned by the earthquake in Japan – 11th March 2011

Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.

Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures’ pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.

And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.

O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

5 thoughts on “A prayer by John Piper, occasioned by the earthquake in Japan – 11th March 2011

  1. Thank you for this sensitive and compassionate prayer.

    THEODICY

    Terror, chaos, evil in the news,
    Earthquakes , suffering, revolution;
    Crushing ‘why’s’ that need solution;
    Theodicy, theories, different views
    Seek to explain and to justify
    The actions of God, and answers ‘Why
    A good God who is all-powerful
    Allows events that seem so awful’
    Is God ‘Love’? Does He really care,
    Of our human pain is He aware?
    Some say His power is limited, or
    That ‘free-will’ explains it more.
    Evil allows us to develop and grow,
    Or it’s a part of the material world we know.
    Some ask, “Does God really care?
    With so much injustice, life’s unfair.
    Why does He not act and intervene
    To change the evils we have seen?

    Are there insights into this mystery,
    A guiding hand behind our history,
    Discerning discipline and judicial judgement
    Behind the perplexing time-bound event?
    Even the use of man’s inhumanity
    For higher purpose than the singularity?
    God’s name will be vindicated
    His justice revealed and stated.
    At the very point of our perplexity
    God enters our human history
    Suffering defeats evil, brings redemption
    Righteousness in the Restoration.
    Perhaps it’s inappropriate
    To pose an impudent question
    On issues, like Job, I shouldn’t mention,
    Matters to deep for my present state?

  2. Thank you Pastor John,
    I would love to hear more of your thoughts regarding God sending disasters such as happened in Japan. I am by background far more from the Arminean mindset yet have firmly concluded that God does in fact send each and every element of nature to the people of the earth including such devestating quakes as happened this week. I worked through this with my six year old son yesterday and we praised God with great joy for His wise and merciful ways. I want to be faithful to speak God’s word to those who are affected by such disasters and would love to be encouraged by your thoughts on these matters.

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