The massive earthquake that hit off the coast of Japan triggered a tectonic shift that moved the sea floor dozens of feet - resulting in a huge wave that hit the country's coastline only minutes after the main impact of the quake. In the aftermath, journalism has blurred into the sensational, as nuclear power plants experience one-in-a-million scenarios and declare nuclear emergencies, thousands are declared dead or missing, and the fragile world economy floats, waiting for impact from the potential devastation of its 3rd-largest contributor. Video feeds show cars, boats, houses, and planes that were picked up by the tsunami and smashed into bridges, buildings, and homes, crushing signs of society in a moment. Tens of thousands are without homes, and even as I write, the world stands poised to potentially face a nuclear catastrophe that would put Chernobyl to shame.

But there is another story that I have not seen reported - a story whose metaphors, to me, are far more compelling than fields of devastated homes and whose impact dwarfs a nuclear meltdown.

Alongside each natural disaster in the course of humanity comes a potential crisis in the faith of mankind. Some are able to see and understand the hand of God in all things, including catastrophes of nature... but some, upon witnessing the suffering of mortality, look to the sky and wonder, "Why?"

Their questions are heartfelt and sincere. Why would a loving God allow such massive suffering to occur? How could He stand back and watch as Saints and sinners are swept away, leaving families torn apart and dreams ravaged? Why doesn't He intervene on our behalf, if He truly loves us, and has the power to help us? Why do bad things happen to good people?

In the wake of the tidal wave that destroyed Japan came a wave of doubt, anguish, and despair that, with instant global communication, swept the entire modern world without warning. People as far away as the UK and Norway felt its impact... and as I write no number has even been begun to count the casualties of faith. Countless men and women, watching the story unfold through newspaper and television, will turn to the sky and curse God, or decide to simply deny His presence altogether. And while the ravages on the economy, human life, and infrastructure will prompt immediate reconstruction, rebuilding faith, in some cases, may never happen.

Families will be torn apart, lives destroyed, dreams shattered as members of humanity lose faith in their Creator. But, unlike the wave that left only devastation in its wake, there is another side to this story. Because while some of humanity questions the existence of a loving God in the face of adversity, others turn to Him, and grow stronger and stronger in their faith.

All over the world, men and women who haven't prayed for years feel a desire to kneel and approach God, imploring Him to bless their lives and give them hope and understanding. They find peace in doing their part to help rebuild a ravaged world - to open their homes and checkbooks for people they don't know - the nameless brothers and sisters of humanity - with an assurance that their monetary investments will never bring a physical return. Others turn from their sins and ask God to help them rebuild the infrastructure of their lives - abandoning alcoholism to return to a family, resolving feuds and fights, and combining to help change the world.

So what is the answer? If He truly loves us and has the power to alleviate suffering, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

The answer is this: He doesn't.

In God's eyes, all things work together for the good of those that love God and serve Him. The earthquake in Japan, like the personal catastrophes that happen every day, gives me an opportunity to choose - to turn to Him and grow in faith, or turn away. To reach out and help my fellow men, or to simply continue life as if nothing had ever happened. And in that choice lies the essence of mortality. This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God... and what we do and who we are in this life determines our relationship with Him.

I'll continue finding ways to help with the physical devastation of Japan. People need food, clean water, shelter, and safety to regain their lives. But, as I do, I know that a greater crusade will be gathering the invisible casualties of faith - finding ways to heal the brokenhearted, lift up the downcast, and raise the spiritually dead. I'm just another guy who happens to write here on (Gay) Mormon Guy. Someday, when the books are opened, I hope that I can read of the miracles that are happening and will take place as men and women of faith turn to God and do their part to rebuild their spiritual world. Hopefully, when my name is mentioned, I'll be able to say I did my part.
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