One of the most popular works from Japan’s celebrated artist of the Edo period, Katsushika Hokusai, is Beneath the Great Wave off Kanagawa.
This woodblock print portrays a thunderous wave towering over the viewer, the barges transporting fish, and (in the distance) Mount Fuji. This woodblock print is just one of a series of the artist’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji, in which Japan’s highest mountain is the centerpiece.
However, The Great Wave is different. In this picture you are eye-level with the fishermen. You see things as they see them. And from a fisherman’s point of view, the waves are scary. From the fisherman’s view Mount Fuji is tiny and almost out of sight, and appears overshadowed by the towering waves. In fact, from the fisherman’s view, Mount Fuji appears vulnerable and threatened by the frenzied waves.
Of course the artist and the audience know better. The audience knows, regardless of how things look, the waves are no threat to Mount Fuji. In fact, the mountain is quite large – 12,388 feet (3,776 meters) above sea level– 100 times higher than any wave that has ever been. From the Mountain’s point of view the waves are the tiniest ripples. From the fisherman’s perspective the waves are angry and noisy and Fuji seems distant and silent. But, the artist knows that Fuji can also thunder – it last erupted about 300 years ago. And when it thunders again, it will be the waters that quake at the sound of its voice.
In Psalm 46 the hostile nations of the world are pictured as furious waves whose thundering seems to make even the mountains quake. But the psalmist assures us,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.… The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.” – Psalm 46:1, 6
Turbulent times may be ahead and you may feel like you’re in one of those fishing boats in the midst of the frenzied waves. But God’s kingdom and his purpose will prevail upon the earth. And God is an unfailing refuge from the storms of this life for all who put their trust in Him.
Almighty and merciful Father, glorify Your name in all the earth and may Your reign of righteousness, peace and love prevail upon this planet. Please, dear Lord, begin your reign first in my own heart. Amen.