I talked with my sister yesterday and said, “It feels funny to say, but I feel like it was a privilege to be in Japan for the earthquake.” She agreed she felt the same way.

I thought more about that statement and I thought of Philippians 3:10, where Paul writes, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (NASB).

Somehow, I feel privileged that I could get to know the Japanese people and share in their sufferings. Of course, I was safe and didn’t share fully their horror and grief. But I know that if I hadn’t been there at the time of the earthquake, especially while interacting with our newly made “friends” on the train, (see previous posts and enclosed photo), I wouldn’t feel the connection with them that I do–and the motivation to pray!

The Japanese people are a wonderful people who need the Lord. Their culture is one that encourages them to be kind, gentle and perfectionistic. When I received my boarding pass for my flight home at the Narita/Tokyo airport from the Singapore Air boarding agent, she didn’t fling it at me, she didn’t hand it to me, she “hands” it to me. With both of her hands grasping the piece of paper, she extended it to me and didn’t let go until she was sure it was securely in my hands.

And always there were smiles that seemed completely sincere. At one point, as I walked around the Narita airport during my 12 hour stay there, I noticed a boarding agent standing alone at a desk smiling at me. That’s exactly what I expected from her and smiled back. Only then did my vision focus and realize that I was smiling at a cardboard cutout of a flight attendant. Oh my! I smiled to myself and looked around to see if anyone had observed me. But that smile, even from a cardboard cutout, was what I expected from them.

I wonder if Jesus considered it a privilege to come and live amongst us and see what it was like to be one of us. I do know he suffered in the same ways we do: weariness, temptation, dealing with people, abuse, and so much more. As a result, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

He suffered with us and as a result, the next verse gives us the benefit: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (vs 16). Because Jesus knows what it’s like to be human, we can come to God’s throne where He forever abides and know that He’ll never say anything like, “I just can’t understand what you’re talking about.”

I’m so grateful for a Savior who suffered with us and knows our challenges. I only tasted a tiny portion of the pain that the Japanese people experienced. But Jesus experienced all of ours–except sin!

(The photo above is when we were waiting in the train for two hours. The boy on my lap is my great-nephew Jack (my sister’s grandson) and the Japanese boy is Kokie who helped to entertain Jack while we waited to be rescued.)