Experts say that there is a one-in-three chance that a 9.0 earthquake, accompanied by a tsunami, will occur in the Pacific Northwest some time in the next fifty years. If it does, we are told that everything west of Interstate-5 "will be toast."
The article warns that we are ill-prepared for this horrific event and, even more troubling, those of us living in this area have shown little concern about the possibility. Besides that, few early warning systems exist and, even if they did, most of the seven million people living in the affected region would have little time to evacuate.
The author points out that surviving this disaster seems unlikely, yet the prospect of living through the aftermath of the catastrophe is unthinkable—one to three months without electricity and drinking water, along with sewer service out for a month to a year, highways requiring six months to a year to restore and health-care facilities needing eighteen months to restore.
Reading the article left me feeling helpless, like I've been thrown into a sea of information, unable to swim, and equipped with only a child-sized lifejacket. It reminded me of years ago when I sat alone in my apartment on a Sunday night, watching The Day After, a disturbing movie about a nuclear holocaust and its effects on a small town in Kansas. Riveted, I could hardly bear to watch, yet I couldn't look away. I may actually have breathed while watching the movie, but only during the commercials.
The film is devoid of hope. At the end the earth is all but destroyed and hardly anyone is left alive. I sat transfixed, staring at the screen as the credits rolled. From my stupor I began to hear the soundtrack, a bold hymn infused with hope, which grew louder as the song went on. It was "How Firm a Foundation."
I sang the hymn all evening and again the next day as I drove to an appointment, modulating a step up in pitch with each new verse. My car was a sanctuary, my song an offering.
Gloom gave way to gladness as I let the words of the hymn fill my heart and mind. Truth pervades each phrase of the nearly 230-year-old song, truth taken directly from Scripture, truth that sets us free (see John 8:32). The more I sang, the freer I became—free from hopelessness and dread, free from fear of an uncertain future.
How Firm a Foundation*
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for reposeEmbracing this hymn does not guard against the possibility of a nuclear holocaust any more than it guarantees the Northwest corner of the US won't experience a devastating earthquake and tsunami. We must act wisely, doing all we can to prepare ourselves for the uncertain future. But all our physical preparedness will do us little good if we do not have a firm foundation. That foundation, laid out in the Bible, points us to God, who has promised never to forsake us. His all-sufficient grace is our supply. Our hope is in Him, and we need not fear.
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no, never forsake!"
* * * * * * * * * * **Written by John Rippon, 1787; Public Domain. The words, as found in The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration, are based on Isaiah 43:1-2.