According to Reuters, an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude occurred on February 6, 2023, in Turkey and northwestern Syria. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was the world’s biggest earthquake since 2021. The damage was made worse because Syria is experiencing an unusually cold winter, and the earthquake devastated areas containing refugees from Syria’s civil war.
A woman in Diyarbakir, Turkey, whose apartment block was flattened by the earthquake, said, “We were shaken like a cradle. There were nine of us at home. Two sons of mine are still in the rubble, I’m waiting for them.”
A man in Atareb, Syria, said, “It was like the apocalypse.”
The Washington Post’s latest update has the death toll at over 7,000 people.
A Prayer in the Wake of the Turkey/Syria Earthquake
The news from Turkey and Syria incredibly grieves us. More people in Turkey have been killed in this earthquake than in any earthquake since 1999. The damage in Syria has affected people who have already lost so much in 11 years of civil war. We find it hard to see your hand at work in moments like this. We wonder why because the damage and death seem so random.
In this time, remind us that you are here regardless of circumstance. We know that our world is damaged. We know that there are many kinds of damage we may never understand. Help us trust you are still present, even in moments like this.
We know that rescue workers are still trying to find people. They are doing this in places where entire apartment blocks have collapsed. They are working where cold weather makes it vital to find people before they freeze. Keep the rescue workers alert. Help them communicate well. Give their supervisors patience and resiliency as they coordinate the efforts.
We pray for those still missing, waiting for someone to rescue them. Keep them safe. Keep them warm in the bitter cold. Give them hope where hope seems impossible. Show them how to help other victims when they can and how to work with rescue workers to ensure great outcomes. We ask for special protection over mothers and children waiting for help. Keep them safe from the elements, hazards, and unexpected threats as they wait for help.
We pray for the refugees and displaced people, especially in Syria. So many people have had to leave their homes in the last 11 years. So many were struggling to survive even before this earthquake happened. Without a permanent address or local connections, staying together or finding each other is much harder after a disaster strikes. Help these people to find their family members. Help them to get the medical care and emergency shelter they need.
We pray for the neighbors and community leaders who can help in areas affected by the earthquake. Emergency relief and foreign aid help so much when it’s used well. Still, we know that so often, the people who can provide the most help are those living next door. Warm their hearts, and show them ways to provide food, clothing, basic medical aid, or a place for people to stay.
We particularly pray for the Christians who live in the areas. Show them how to aid the least of these and show your love in this terrible time. We ask you would particularly help Christians to extend aid when dealing with people who are hostile to Christianity. Loving enemies is never easy, but it is what you command us to do. Help your church in Turkey and Syria to love their enemies exceedingly well in this terrible time.
We thank you for the world leaders reaching out to help in this time. Help them to set aside egos and ulterior motives so they can work together to give the most help to the most people. Move obstacles and move hearts so that charity will defeat apathy.
We pray for the Christian aid groups already coming in to help with this situation. Give them wisdom and perseverance as they extend help. Give them generous hearts so they can provide all the help they can. Give them cooperative hearts so they can work together, bonded in their common mission, even if their mission statements and histories differ. We know that the world will know we are your servants because we love each other (John 13:35), so show us how to love each other well and use that camaraderie to help those who need help the most.
Lastly, we pray for those who have gotten confirmed reports that their loved ones have died in the earthquake. We know there is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including a time for grief. Help those people to know they are free to grieve what they have lost, even ask you, “why has this happened?” You are a good God who can take our praise and our grief. You heard King David’s praise and his weeping in the Psalms and still loved him. You listened to the Old Testament prophets cry out in sadness at many calamities. You give us the freedom to lament and tell us that you also know what it is to feel grief. Jesus, God the Son, experienced pain and grief (John 11:35). Show the grieving people in Turkey and Syria that you are the God who weeps and knows our pain. Help them to grieve and, at the proper time, to see the redemptive things you weave from even the worst circumstances.
We ask for all these things in your name.
10 Bible Verses to Remember When Disasters Strike
1. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” — Proverbs 3:5
2. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” — 1 Peter 5:7
3. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9
4 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28
5 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
6 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” — Psalm 23:4-6
7 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” — Psalm 34:18
8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” — Psalm 34:8
9 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10
10 “Jesus wept.” — John 11:35
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Roman Novitskii
G. Connor Salter is a writer and editor, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing from Taylor University. In 2020, he won First Prize for Best Feature Story in a regional contest by the Colorado Press Association Network. He has contributed over 1,000 articles to various publications, including interviews for Christian Communicator and book reviews for The Evangelical Church Library Association. Find out more about his work here.