A sudden roaring noise and the house began to shake. Plants and antiques tumbled to the floor while I dashed to stand under a doorway.
On December 22, 2003 at 11:15 PST, a 6.5 earthquake struck the Central Coast of California and shook me out of over 50 years of complacency. Although a native Californian, I had never felt an earthquake of such power—nor been so unsettled.
Unlike many I know, my china remained intact and all but a few fragile treasures survived the quake. But ever since the earth moved under my feet, I have been watching news reports of earthquakes around the world with a new eye to their significance. Could it be that earthquakes express the reality of the creation groaning in anticipation of the Creator’s return? Might these tremblings be one of the signs prophesied so long ago in Scripture? (Romans 8:19-22 and Matthew 24:3-8)
The Last Century of Earthquakes
Increase of Earthquakes
Stephen S. Gao, a geophysicist at Missouri University of Science and Technology, says that compared to the 20-year period from the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s, the earth has experienced an increase of seismic activity in the last 15 years.
The data also points to the fact that we now have better technology and communication with which to locate, study, and distribute information concerning earthquakes—something we were missing just a hundred years ago.
History of Deadly Earthquakes
In looking at a timeline of the deadliest earthquakes since 1906, catastrophic earthquakes appear to be increasing since the 1960s. Yet, population growth and density is also responsible for escalating damage and death when an earthquake occurs.
A New Decade of Earthquakes Begins With a Roll
Since January of 2010, new stories of earthquakes have occurred weekly. Some aren’t significant enough to make our headlines, but nevertheless, the quakes occur. We are, of course, aware of these major events:
The 7.0 January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake killed over 200,000 people.
The 8.8 earthquake in Chile on February 27, 2010 is the seventh strongest earthquake in history. The death toll continues to mount as reports from the 600-mile stretch of effected country come in. Over 90 aftershocks were recorded in the 24 hours following the quake.
The 6.9 earthquake in Okinawa on February 27, 2010 caused little damage, but adds to the number of earthquakes in that region of the world.
A 6.1 earthquake struck Argentina on February 27, 2010 shortly after the earthquake in Chile was recorded. News sources say it was not an aftershock of the Chile shaker.
New Future Earthquake Concerns
Some expect another large earthquake to hit Haiti next year.
When an earthquake hits, we immediately grieve over the loss of life and wonder how to help those in need. But what do you think about when the earth shakes? Are these earthquakes the groanings of a planet in anticipation of her Creator’s return? Does the fear of the earth moving beneath your feet cause you to tremble?
This is what the Bible says: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2 NIV). I’m grateful for these words of comfort and promise. How about you?
Please share your earthquake experiences and thoughts in the comment section below.
In Him together, Susan Gaddis