The scenes from Japan are deeply saddening. My brother lived there for over 10 years with his family so that country has been close to our families heart for quite some time.
The damage in Japan is hard to grasp. Japan is roughly the size of Minnesota with 1/2 the population of the US. Therefore population density is far higher than one might find in the US. When these events strike, the damage even if localized is greater than it might be in the US.
With concerns around nuclear reactors, the crisis does not appear to be over.
What can we do at times like this? For those called to offer material aid, there will be many opportunities over the coming weeks. For all of us, what we can do is keep the those impacted in our hearts. Prayer does not directly alleviate suffering. What prayer does is open us up to the compassion we need to access in order to reach out towards others. It softens our heart which allows us to reach out to those who are brokenhearted.