Tuesday, January 4

One Disaster After Another

We are all too quick to forget. The fact is, we live in a world of woe. Sin has ravaged God’s good creation in horrific ways. The stunning destruction of life in the tsunami disaster this past week, only highlights the fact that history is often little more than a mind-boggling, bone-jarring, and soul-wrenching litany of sorrows—making the very real and substantial hope of the Gospel all the more remarkable. Consider:

1556: In the Chinese province of Shensi the most deadly earthquake in history resulted in an astonishing 830,000 deaths.

1976: Tangshan, China suffered an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale. Twenty square miles of the vast city was utterly devastated. Three years later, the New China News Agency released figures following the inaugural Congress of the Chinese Seismological Society which claimed 242,000 dead and 164,000 injured. But, the U.S. Geological Society estimated that the actual death toll was probably nearer 655,000.

1642: Chinese provincial rebels destroyed the Kaifeng seawall; as a result more than 300,000 people drowned in the coastal floodwaters.

1970: Some 200,000 people in eastern Pakistan were swept away to their deaths by a cyclone-driven tidal wave from the Bay of Bengal.

1138: A deadly earthquake in Aleppo, Syria claimed the lives of at least 230,000 people.

856: Multiple historical records indicate that more than 200,000 people were killed in central Persia (modern Iran) in one of the deadliest earthquakes on record.

1920: In Jiangsu Province, China, an earthquake measuring 8.6 in magnitude killed more than 200,000 people.

1927: A magnitude 7.9 earthquake claimed approximately 200,000 victims in and around Xining, China.

1923: The Great Kanto Earthquake, estimated at 7.9 in magnitude, destroyed one third of Tokyo and most of Yokohama, leaving 2.5 million people homeless. The quake resulted in the Great Tokyo Fire. Floods followed as the rivers Fukuro Chiyo and Takimi burst their banks. At least 143,000 people were killed, although unofficial estimates say as many as 300,000 may have died.

1991: A cyclone killed over 131,000 and left as many as 9 million homeless in southeast Bangladesh. But thousands more died from hunger and water-borne diseases in the weeks and months afterward.

1948: An earthquake measuring 7.3 in magnitude killed at least 110,000 people in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

1228: More than 100,000 people drowned in Friesland, when a North Sea storm surge flooded much of Holland’s lowlands.

1908: The city of Messina was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake. The death toll ranged anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000 throughout Sicily and southern Italy. A tidal wave followed, causing even more devastation to the town of Reggio across the straits.

1755: An earthquake leveled much of the city of Lisbon and was felt as far away as southern France and North Africa. More than 70,000 were killed.

1970: An earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitude destroyed the northern Peruvian towns of Casma, Huaraz and Chimbote. A quake-induced rock and snow avalanche on Mt. Huascaran buried the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. There were some 66,794 people killed and more than 400,000 were left homeless.

2003: An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale left more than 41,000 confirmed dead as the entire ancient city of Bam, Iran collapsed into a heap of rubble.

1985: An earthquake registering 8.1 in magnitude struck central and southwest regions of Mexico, devastating part of the capital city and three coastal states. Somewhere between 12,000 and 25,000 were killed and another 40,000 were injured.

1976: A 7.5 magnitude quake and the resulting mudslides caused horrific destruction just north of Guatemala City, leaving over 23,000 dead, 80,000 people injured, and 1.5 million homeless.

1993: Up to 22,000 people were killed and 36 villages were destroyed after a series of powerful earthquakes rocked western and southern India. The first of the five tremors measured 6.4 in magnitude.

1999: Heavy rains caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides, killing an estimated 5,000 to 20,000 people, in Venezuela’s worst modern-day natural disaster.

The historical evidence is simply that our fallen world is a dangerous world. This is nothing new--despite what the harum-scarum prophecy "experts" may contend. "The whole creation groans for the day of redemption." It always has. And until Christ's triumphant return, it always will.

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