The Privileged Life: When Earthquakes Leave You Shaky

“And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.” (Revelation 16:18)

In 1989, Dr. Iben Browning predicted a major earthquake on the New Madrid fault line along the Mississippi River, to occur around Dec. 3, 1990.1 Remember the massive destruction that day?

Well, no…because it never happened. 

My husband and I were newlyweds living in Memphis at the time, near the fault line. The prediction gained traction when San Francisco suffered a very damaging earthquake in October of 1989. Folks all up and down the Mississippi began to get skittish. 

As the year rolled toward the doomsday event, I dutifully attached brackets to our living room hutch against the wall, just in case things got shaky. And, I stored some plastic jugs in the attic, full of water…which eventually leaked into the ceiling. 

It didn’t help that I had studied about the New Madrid earthquake of 1811—one of the most powerful quakes known to hit our nation. The tremblor caused the Mississippi River to run backward in places, created Reelfoot Lake, and rang church bells in Charleston, S.C.2

But Dec. 3, 1990, came and went without fanfare. The dreaded earthquake continues to elude prognosticators, although the possibility still lingers along this unsteady fault.

Earthquakes are dramatic, unwelcome, unpredictable events. They create tsunamis and destroy lives, buildings, and infrastructure. They frighten us by shaking everything around us, especially the ground below us…and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. 

Fault lines run all over the globe, cracks that shift constantly in our Earth’s crust atop a smoldering ball of liquid metals. In fact, more than 20,000 earthquakes are reported annually, about 55 a day.Only two months ago, a series of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria killed more than 57,000 people—making it one the deadliest quake disasters so far in the 21st century.4

In Israel, the Dead Sea Fault runs vertically through the country along the Jordan River, past Jerusalem. It’s no wonder, then, that about a dozen or so earthquakes show up in the Bible, mostly mentioned in Revelation.

While recently reading again through the Gospel accounts of the death and resurrection of Christ, I noted that earthquakes happened twice. The first came when Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross. At that moment, the ground shuddered, the veil was torn in two from top to bottom, rocks cracked, and graves opened for the bodies of saints to be released. The events justifiably terrified the Roman centurion and his men guarding the cross, impressing upon them the reality that Jesus was truly the Son of God (Matthew 27:51-54).

The second earthquake occurred on Easter morning, when the angel of the Lord descended from heaven to roll back the stone from the tomb door and then sit upon it (Matthew 28:2-4). The angel, bright as lightning, horrified the guards there, too…abject fear caused them to fall to the ground like dead men. 

Have you ever been through an earthquake? In the real or figurative sense? 

Growing up on the Mississippi and now living in the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone, I’ve experienced several earthquakes over the years, mostly very small ones. These haven’t been on the same scale as what Californians go through all the time but enough to take notice…especially one tremblor that sent light fixtures swaying back and forth from the ceiling during a church service.

And, I’ve endured a lot of other “earthquakes” in my life, times when unexpected hardships and disasters have shifted the ground beneath me and caused me to stagger. It’s a lot harder to recover from these tremblors than the real quakes.

But as in the case of Christ’s death and resurrection, we can be assured of His presence with us. There’s the reality of pain, hopelessness, confusion, and despair when we’re assaulted by heartbreaking news—a cancer diagnosis, divorce papers, a job layoff, the death of a loved one. When Jesus died on the cross, the earth groaned at the injustice and gravity of His payment for the sins of the world. 

When He rose on Easter morning, though, His resounding victory over Satan was heralded by the aftershock—a trumpeted announcement from God Himself. The Earth shook at the impact of Christ’s power to conquer death. The quake signaled the message to all believers that Jesus is alive, that He walks among us, that He is mighty to save even the most wretched sinners and take us with Him to eternal life.

If you’re going through an “earthquake” in your own life right now, I encourage you to take heart. Jesus has never left you and will never leave you, even when darkness closes in around you as it did on Good Friday for Him. As your King, He has a sovereign plan for your life, for hope and a future with Him in heaven, in spite of the shaky circumstances.

Read the account again in Matthew 28 about His resurrection. If Christ has this much power and authority to arise from authentic death, think what He can accomplish in your trials. Maybe your “quakes” are to remind you that He is truly the Son of God. With His presence to guard and guide you, you will not be shaken permanently. 

With every tremor you feel, may Jesus call you to stand firmly in faith with Him. You will not be moved!

Jesus, You are the Creator of the Universe and Lord over our tiny planet. When earthquakes arrive, assure us that all things come from Your hands, working according to Your purposes. Hold us steadfast in faith and trust that You will keep us from falling. In Your name, Amen.

#eastersunday #israel #jerusalem #crucifixion #emptytomb #risenLord #earthquake #seismiczone #faultline #newmadrid #1811earthquake #tremblor #turkeysyriaearthquake

© Copyright 2023 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “The Privileged Life: When Earthquakes Leave You Shaky”

  1. Great post! I grew up in CA and felt many earthquakes, but the one that shook my home in Hawaii is the most memorable. I think because there it was much more unexpected. As for the kind that shake the foundations beneath us, I agree they are harder to recover from. But I pray those motivate me to step further onto the solid rock… and now I’m singing “on Christ the solid Rock I stand”. What a great soundtrack for today! Thank you, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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