A series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks along the Mississippi River between December 16, 1811 and February 7, 1812 are known as the New Madrid earthquakes. These are believed to have produced the most widely-ranged and powerfully-felt shockwaves of any earthquakes in modern U.S. history, being felt as far away as New York, City.
Imagine being thrown from your bed only to feel the earth moving beneath your feet. The sound of distant thunder rumbles from deep beneath the surface of the earth. In panic, people flee their homes into a darkness intensified by sand blows, geyser-like eruptions of sand mixed with water. Amidst the rotten-egg smell of sulfur, as day begins to awaken, an aftershock nearly as powerful as the initial earthquake shakes the earth.
In the weeks to follow, two additional earthquakes and many powerful aftershocks hit the region. Eye-witnesses describe the apparent movement of the Mississippi River in the opposite direction. They tell of landslides, sunken land, and the formation of two lakes which had not previously existed.
Though not a heavily populated region, it must have been horrific to have lived under those circumstances. Many moved away. Others stayed in make-shift shelters. Many believed they were living in the “end times.”
While having no relation to geophysical events, things that happen to us can leave us reeling as though we are walking on shaky ground. Life’s uncertainties—the death of a precious loved one—a life-threatening diagnosis—alienation from the one we love—a serious financial crisis—so many things in life can shake us loose from our moorings. We stumble and fall. We get up only to be knocked down again. Where can we turn when life beats us down?
We turn to God who “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We turn to God who “knows the end from the beginning” (Is. 46:10). We turn to God who spoke the worlds into existence (Ps. 33:9). We turn to God who gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins on the cross (Jn. 3:16).
In turning to God, “we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; through its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at it swelling pride” (Ps. 46:2-3).
We turn to God knowing that “There is a city whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns” (vs. 4). Take a deep breath, relax and know that He is God (vs. 5).