A Word to the Wise: What can you do when the world falls apart?

By: Tom Rupp
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Day to day we live, experiencing the various ups and downs that come our way. We get hyped up about things, thinking that certain events are more momentous than we later realize they are. In the heat of the moment ,some things loom large in our psyche, as if there is nothing else more important than this day, this moment, this event. And then the earthquake comes. And then a lot of the transient things that we thought were so important suddenly vanish in the dust. In the recent years we saw a hurricane in America and a tsunami in the Far East wreak havoc on people’s lives. Events like these are more than “events.” In fact, an earthquake is an apt metaphor for such life-altering crises. They send shock waves through the soul, along with recurrent shock waves. They leave our life landscape altered. You don’t just “get over” such tragedies. If you are still alive, you get a chance to carry on, to adjust, and to go on living. Sometimes that’s the best you can do. Sometimes merely staying alive is an adequate accomplishment. Once again, after an earthquake in Haiti, a large segment of Earth’s population no longer exists and many others are immediately forced to mentally deal with it. There is no training course you pass before you become a spouse or a parent. There is also no training course you pass before you are allowed to endure the hardships of life. Some people are not afforded the luxury of taking a grief class before one of their loved ones dies. Life happens. Death happens. If that sounds fatalistic to you, so be it. At the risk of sounding trite, it is what it is. Every time I think I have the world figured out and every time I think I have my theological bearings in balance, a shaking occurs somewhere to test it all. There is a verse in the Bible that says things are shaken “so that what cannot be shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:27). Whether it is a man-made disaster or a natural one, we who remain are forced to look for what remains. In “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Nazi death camp survivor Victor Frankl says, “Man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.” Tom Rupp is a Bible Teacher at Capital Bible College. He can be reached at or through his blog at