In my head, I knew God was in charge, but it didn’t feel that way. I knew I should be caring for others, but I was unable to do anything. I just waited for the house to stop shaking.

I was helping our children to leave for school, when the thing that I had been secretly afraid of since moving back to Japan finally happened. An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 hit our city. As soon as I experienced the tremors, my senses were brought back to the bigger earthquake that hit my hometown, Kobe, twenty-three years ago, killing more than 5000 people.

Even when the house stopped shaking, I could not shake off my fear. Throughout the week, there were many after-quakes, even a landslide warning in our area. Although our children were enjoying two days off from school, I struggled with flashbacks and irrational fears for days. When we went shopping I couldn’t stay in the store, because I really thought it was going to collapse and that I would be buried underneath. The sound of helicopters flying over our city reminded me of the time that many people were buried under their houses in Kobe. In my head I knew that this wasn’t the Kobe earthquake, but my heart was totally back in that time. It brought up feelings and memories that I didn’t know I had. Then I was reminded of a verse from the book of Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”.

Joshua and his people needed to hear this assurance more than once, because they were afraid. They were afraid, and needed to be reminded that their God was with them. The thought that this brave leader might have once been afraid like me encouraged me. I could make a choice, like Joshua and his people did. When the tremors hit, I could either choose to be afraid, or I could choose to believe that God is in charge, and that he is bigger than an earthquake. I had to make this choice many times a day in the beginning, and still have to face that choice every day. But it is okay. He is with us in the after-shocks.

Please pray for me, and for our churches in Japan, that we will be equipped to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others, even as we are facing our own fear.

By Masami Giesbrecht