Who could ever have nightmared that in the very month of the 80th anniversary of the Napier earthquake, that nation-defining event, there could be the possibility of it being eclipsed by another quake further down the faultline?
I find myself with God's people in Sri Lanka - tsunami-land - and I have been touched by their compassion. I also find myself reading and re-reading Isaiah 40-60, something I had committed to do before the quake struck. The people of God are in a hideous exile and yet God speaks through Isaiah with words of tender comfort, surprising hope - and poignant relevance ... right down to talk of shaking mountains and hope for people of the islands.
If you are looking for words of comfort, may I suggest that here is a good place to commence the journey? I invite you to look over my shoulder at what is helping me:
"See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power and his arm rules for him ... He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the (canterbury) lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those who have young." (Isaiah 40.10-11)
“The (north and south!) islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward; they help each other and say to their companions, “Be strong!” ... So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41.5-6, 10)
“A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42.3)
“Do not tremble, do not be afraid ... Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44.8)
“Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you.” (Isaiah 46.4)
“Listen to me, you islands (north and south!); hear this, you distant nations (aotearoa-new zealand) ... Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (and your photo is on my fridge!).” (Isaiah 49.1,15-16)
“Let those who walk in the dark, who have no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.” (Isaiah 50.10)
“The (north and south) islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm ... I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand. I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth and who say ... ‘you are my people’.” (Isaiah 51.5,16)
“Though the mountains be shaken and the (port) hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54.10)
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55.6)
“Surely the islands look to me ... No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no longer be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.” (Isaiah 60.9,18-20)
“In all their distress he too was distressed.” (Isaiah 63.9)
...and there is more, much more, where this comes from.
It has been good to chat.