We just experienced an earthquake at our house, as many did across Victoria, Australia.* It was strong and unexpected! The strongest we’ve ever felt here.
Over the past few years, it feels as though we have been shaken to the core by a pandemic that has impacted the whole world. We have learned that we can’t trust things in this world. We have learned that we can't rely on our plans — we have even given up making plans because it seems so futile.
Who could have ever expected that we would need to wear masks to leave the house, that we would have curfews, or be limited to traveling only 5 kilometers (3 miles) from our house? Who could have ever predicted that we couldn’t visit each other in our own homes or enjoy simple pleasures like sitting with our friends together on a picnic rug, laughing and talking? Who would have ever thought that these things could happen in Australia, the safe country?
Our whole world feels unstable.
God promises in His Word that He will shake the heavens and the earth so that only unshakable things remain. “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.’ And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’)
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. . . .
“Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:18-29, NKJV).
God promises that the heavens and the earth will be removed and be replaced with something new — something eternal that can never be shaken. We know that this is one thing that we can rely on. This is one thing that we can set our hopes on and put our faith in. It is solid and dependable, trustworthy, and true.
While it is horrible to see our world shaking and unstable, maybe it is good to learn that we can't pin our hopes on this world. We can focus our eyes on God's kingdom. It is made up of God's people, His living stones — we are already citizens of this eternal kingdom. We have the things that remain; faith, hope, and love. And while it is only appropriate that we grieve and mourn for this world, for its sickness and death, its atrocities and loss of freedom, we can live in the midst of all of this in the joy that God gives us and in the knowledge that we have already inherited God’s kingdom.
What should our response be?
Thankfulness and worship. Hebrews tell us to “be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe” (Heb. 12:28, NLT). While we look around at earthquakes, war, protests, death, and disease, it pleases God that we are thankful and worship Him. He has opened our eyes to something bigger and grander — our rock-solid future, a Kingdom that can never be shaken. He promises to be with us through it all, and He will give us the courage and strength to face whatever we need to face.
* The state of Victoria, Australia was hit by its biggest earthquake on record on September 22, 2021. The quake measured 5.9 Mw on the Richter scale.