“I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11).
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the most destructive earthquake ever was the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake that struck the Tokyo and Yokohama areas on September 1, 1923. The initial jolt, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, was followed by a 40-foot-high tsunami. About 80 percent of the dwellings in Yokohama and 60 percent of those in Tokyo were destroyed. A total of 142,907 people were killed or reported missing after the quake and subsequent fires, including 5,000 schoolchildren. The tremors and fires injured 502,000 and 3.25 million were left homeless. Disease and despair rode throughout the nation. Mass hysteria broke out. Food and medical supplies were quickly used up and 9 million people were without drinking water. Then help came – most of it from the United States of America.
Joshua Hammer wrote in the New York Times, “The relief effort, led by the United States, was fast and efficient, and ended up saving thousands from certain death or prolonged misery. American naval vessels set sail from China on the evening of September 2, and within a week, dozens of warships packed with relief supplies – rice, tents, reed mats, canned roast beef – filled Yokohama harbor.”
“On the home front,” Hammer wrote, “President Calvin Coolidge, not generally regarded as the most forceful of men, took the lead in rallying the United States to the Japanese cause. The American Red Cross, of which Coolidge was the titular head, kicked off a national relief drive, raising $12 million for earthquake victims and initiating a wave of good feeling between the two countries.”
The Japanese were grateful. Their newspapers carried headlines that read: JAPAN WILL NEVER FORGET. But she did forget. In fact, 18 years later she bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack that cost many American lives.
But are the Japanese the only ones who overlook the past and forget previous mercies? Of course not. Long ago, the Lord said of Israel in Jeremiah 2:32, “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” God blessed Israel, but they forgot Him. Are we guilty of doing the same?
The psalmist declared, “Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Psalm 88:12). Today, we as believers can travel to the “land of forgetfulness” as the psalmist says, and that is not a good thing! God certainly has blessed us, is blessing us, and will bless us still. Beloved, let’s not forget God and His graciousness!